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Chemoresistance in human ovarian cancer: the role of apoptotic regulators

Michael Fraser1, Brendan Leung1, Arezu Jahani-Asl1, Xiaojuan Yan1, Winston E Thompson2 and Benjamin K Tsang1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Cellular & Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa Health Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada K1Y 4E9, Canada

2 Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Cooperative Reproductive Science Research Center, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30310, USA

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Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2003, 1:66  doi:10.1186/1477-7827-1-66

Published: 7 October 2003


Ovarian cancer is among the most lethal of all malignancies in women. While chemotherapy is the preferred treatment modality, chemoresistance severely limits treatment success. Recent evidence suggests that deregulation of key pro- and anti-apoptotic pathways is a key factor in the onset and maintenance of chemoresistance. Furthermore, the discovery of novel interactions between these pathways suggests that chemoresistance may be multi-factorial. Ultimately, the decision of the cancer cell to live or die in response to a chemotherapeutic agent is a consequence of the overall apoptotic capacity of that cell. In this review, we discuss the biochemical pathways believed to promote cell survival and how they modulate chemosensitivity. We then conclude with some new research directions by which the fundamental mechanisms of chemoresistance can be elucidated.