Modulating specific biological effects through the changes in cytokine receptors’ expression level remains poorly understood. This study aimed to investigate the influence of the dose-dependent effect of TNF on the balance between proapoptotic and proliferation response depending on the parameters of TNFR1/2 expression density.
Tumor cell lines (HEp-2, K-562, MCF-7, ZR-75/1, MOLT-4, IM-9, and Raji) were characterized for TNFR1/2 co-expression using flow cytometry and were studied to reveal the dose-dependent effect of rhTNF on cell cycle and apoptosis parameters. The associations among the studied parameters were estimated by correlation and regression analysis.
It was found for ZR-75/1 cells (the cell line characterized by high expression of both types) that a dose-dependent increase in expression of both types of TNF-α receptors on cells reduces the proliferative activity of cells. For MOLT-4 cells (which are characterized by lower expression), an increase in proliferative response of cells was positively associated with the percentage of both TNFR1+ and TNFR2+ cells. However, opposite effects on the cells were shown for the K-562 and MCF-7 lines having a similar expression profile. A similarity (a large percentage of double-positive cells) was revealed for the lines having similar effects (K-562 and ZR-75/1).
High expression of TNF receptor type 1 is not always associated with predominant activation of proapoptotic pathways. However, in the case of simultaneous high expression of both types of receptors, the proportion of double-positive cells is crucial for the activation of either the proapoptotic or proliferation pathways.

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