Previously, the expression of caspase-3 siRNA could not effectively inhibit sodium butyrate (NaBu)-induced apoptotic cell death of recombinant Chinese hamster ovary (rCHO) cells producing human thrombopoietin (hTPO). Caspase-3 siRNA expressing cells appeared to compensate for the lack of caspase-3 by increasing active caspase-7 levels. For the successful inhibition of NaBu-induced apoptosis of rCHO cells, both caspase-3 and caspase-7 were down-regulated using the siRNA expression vector system. Co-down-regulation of caspase-3 and caspase-7 increased cell viability and extended culture longevity in serum-free culture in the presence or absence of 1mM NaBu addition. In the cultures with 1mM NaBu addition, the maximum hTPO concentration in rCHO cells with down-regulation of both caspases was approximately 55% higher than that in rCHO cells without down-regulation of caspases and approximately 16% higher than rCHO cells with down-regulation of only caspase-3. However, in the culture with 3mM NaBu, this strategy could not dramatically enhance the culture longevity and hTPO production, compared to Bcl-2 overexpression. The different result in hTPO production between down-regulation of caspases and Bcl-2 overexpression may be because the down-regulation of caspase-3 and caspase-7, unlike Bcl-2 overexpression, could not maintain mitochondrial membrane potential in the presence of 3mM NaBu. Taken together, co-down-regulation of caspase-3 and caspase-7 is effective in regard to extension of culture longevity and enhancement of hTPO production in a serum-free culture in the presence or absence of 1mM NaBu addition. (C) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.