Mechanisms of glucocorticoid-induced apoptosis in hematologic malignancies: Updates

Olga Frankfurt, Steven T. Rosen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Purpose of review: Glucocorticoids remain a central component of the therapeutic armamentarium for a broad spectrum of hematologic malignancies. There is an extensive body of evidence suggesting that the efficacy of glucocorticoids stems from their ability to mediate apoptosis in leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma cells. Recent findings: Traditionally, glucocorticoid-induced apoptosis is divided into three stages: an initiation stage, which involves glucocorticoid receptor activation and glucocorticoid receptor-mediated gene regulation; a decision stage, which engages the prosurvival and proapoptotic factors at the mitochondrial level; and an execution stage, which implicates caspases and endonuclease activation. Recent discoveries have clarified many aspects of the apoptotic pathway, including activation of the caspases cascade and multicatalytic proteasome, suppression of prosurvival transcription factors such as AP-1, c-myc, nuclear factor-κB, as well as cross-talk between the T-cell receptor and cytokine signaling pathways. Summary: This review focuses primarily on insights gained during recent years into the mechanism of the signaling pathways responsible for mediating glucocorticoid-induced apoptosis in hematologic malignancies. This information provides a scientific basis to explore synergistic approaches that may enhance glucocorticoid-induced apoptosis and may bypass mechanism of resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-563
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent opinion in oncology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2004


  • Apoptosis
  • Caspases
  • Glucocorticoid receptor
  • Glucocorticoids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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