British journal of pharmacology

Pharmacological inhibition of caspase-8 limits lung tumour outgrowth.

PMID 25917370


Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death worldwide. Despite advances in therapy, conventional therapy is still the main treatment and has a high risk of chemotherapy resistance. Caspase-8 is involved in cell death and is a recognized marker for poor patient prognosis. To elucidate the role of caspase-8 in lung carcinoma, we used human samples of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and a mouse model of carcinogen-induced lung cancer. Healthy and cancerous NSCLC samples had similar levels of the active form of caspase-8. Similarly, lung tumour-bearing mice had high levels of the active form of caspase-8. Pharmacological inhibition of caspase-8 by z-IETD-FMK robustly reduced tumour outgrowth and this was closely associated with a reduction in the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, IL-6, TNF-α, IL-18, IL-1α, IL-33, but not IL-1β. Furthermore, inhibition of caspase-8 reduced the recruitment of innate suppressive cells, such as myeloid-derived suppressor cells, but not of regulatory T cells to lungs of tumour-bearing mice. However, despite the well-known role of caspase-8 in cell death, the apoptotic cascade (caspase-3, caspase-9 and Bcl-2 dependent) was not active in lungs of z-IETD-treated tumour-bearing mice, but instead higher levels of the short segment of c-FLIP (c-FLIPs) were detected. Similarly, human healthy lung samples had higher levels of c-FLIPs than cancerous samples. Our data suggest that caspase-8 is an important orchestrator of cancer-associated inflammation and the presence of short segment of c-FLIP determines whether caspase-8 induces tumour proliferation or tumour arrest/regression in the lung.