Anticancer drug-induced tumor suppression may involve mechanisms of protection against neoplastic transformation that are normally latent in mammalian cells and consist in a genetic program implemented during anti-tumoral defense. This defense program results in the self elimination of cells harboring potentially dangerous mutations by triggering cell death through apoptosis and/or autophagy or in the execution of a program that leads to a permanent growth arrest known as senescence. These responses are considered crucial tumor suppressive mechanisms and their study appears to be essential to develop therapeutical procedures based on the enhancement of the different responses. This review summarizes fundamental knowledge on the underlying mechanisms able to limit excessive or aberrant cellular proliferation and on the prognostic value of both apoptosis and senescence detection. In addition, interesting evidence showing that different drugs induce senescence or cell death depending on the genetic features of the tumor cells as well as on the integrity of the relative pathways is reported.
Keywords: Senescence, apoptosis, autophagy, cancer therapy
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