Drinking water contaminated with inorganic arsenic is associated with increased risk for different types of cancer. Paradoxically, arsenic trioxide can also be used to induce remission in patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) with a success rate of approximately 80%. A comprehensive study examining the mechanisms and potential signaling pathways contributing to the anti-tumor properties of arsenic trioxide has not been carried out.
Here we applied a systems biology approach to identify gene biomarkers that underlie tumor cell responses to arsenic-induced cytotoxicity. The baseline gene expression levels of 14,500 well characterized human genes were associated with the GI50 data of the NCI-60 tumor cell line panel from the developmental therapeutics program (DTP) database. Selected biomarkers were tested in vitro for the ability to influence tumor susceptibility to arsenic trioxide.
A significant association was found between the baseline expression levels of 209 human genes and the sensitivity of the tumor cell line panel upon exposure to arsenic trioxide. These genes were overlayed onto protein-protein network maps to identify transcriptional networks that modulate tumor cell responses to arsenic trioxide. The analysis revealed a significant enrichment for the oxidative stress response pathway mediated by nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2) with high expression in arsenic resistant tumor cell lines. The role of the NRF2 pathway in protecting cells against arsenic-induced cell killing was validated in tumor cells using shRNA-mediated knock-down.
In this study, we show that the expression level of genes in the NRF2 pathway serve as potential gene biomarkers of tumor cell responses to arsenic trioxide. Importantly, we demonstrate that tumor cells that are deficient for NRF2 display increased sensitivity to arsenic trioxide. The results of our study will be useful in understanding the mechanism of arsenic-induced cytotoxicity in cells, as well as the increased applicability of arsenic trioxide as a chemotherapeutic agent in cancer treatment.
Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is a blood cancer that affects people of all ages and strikes about 1,500 patients in the United States each year. The standard treatment of APL has been based on the combined administration of all-trans retinoic acid and chemotherapy including anthracyclins and cytarabine. However, 10-20% of patients relapse, with their disease becoming resistant to conventional treatment. Recently the Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of arsenic trioxide (ATO) or Trisenox for the treatment of APL, based on clinical studies showing a complete remission, especially in relapsed patients. In a recently published study we demonstrated that ATO pharmacology as an anti-cancer drug is associated with its cytotoxic and genotoxic effects in human leukemia cells.
In the present study, we further investigated the apoptotic mechanisms of ATO toxicity using the HL-60 cell line as a test model. Apoptosis was measured by flow cytometry analysis of phosphatidylserine externalization (Annexin V assay) and caspase 3 activity, and by DNA laddering assay.
Flow cytometry data showed a strong dose-response relationship between ATO exposure and Annexin-V positive HL-60 cells. Similarly, a statistically significant and dose-dependent increase (p <0.05) was recorded with regard to caspase 3 activity in HL60 cells undergoing late apoptosis. These results were confirmed by data of DNA laddering assay showing a clear evidence of nucleosomal DNA fragmentation in ATO-treated cells.
Taken together, our research demonstrated that ATO represents an apoptosis-inducing agent and its apoptotic mechanisms involve phosphatidylserine externalization, caspase 3 activation and nucleosomal DNA fragmentation.
Arsenic trioxide, the trade name Trisenox, is a drug used to treat acute promyleocytic leukemia (APL). Studies have demonstrated that arsenic trioxide slows cancer cells growth. Although arsenic influences numerous signal-transduction pathways, cell-cycle progression, and/or apoptosis, its apoptotic mechanisms are complex and not entirely delineated. The primary objective of this research was to evaluate the effects of arsenic trioxide on DNA synthesis and to determine whether arsenic-induced apoptosis is mediated via caspase activation, p38 mitogen–activated protein kinase (MAPK), and cell cycle arrest. To achieve this goal, lung cancer cells (A549) were exposed to various concentrations (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 μg/mL) of arsenic trioxide for 48 h. The effect of arsenic trioxide on DNA synthesis was determined by the [3H]thymidine incorporation assay. Apoptosis was determined by the caspase-3 fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) assay, p38 MAP kinase activity was determined by an immunoblot assay, and cell-cycle analysis was evaluated by the propidium iodide assay. The [3H]thymidine-incorporation assay revealed a dose-related cytotoxic response at high levels of exposure. Furthermore, arsenic trioxide modulated caspase 3 activity and induced p38 MAP kinase activation in A549 cells. However, cell-cycle studies showed no statistically significant differences in DNA content at subG1 check point between control and arsenic trioxide treated cells.
arsenic trioxide (As2O3); [3H]thymidine incorporation; apoptosis; cell cycle regulation; p38 MAP kinase; caspase-3 fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)
In acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) patients, retinoic acid (RA) triggers differentiation while arsenic trioxide (arsenic) induces both a partial differentiation and apoptosis. Although their mechanisms of action are believed to be distinct, these two drugs both induce the catabolism of the oncogenic promyelocytic leukemia (PML)/RARα fusion protein. While APL cell lines resistant to one agent are sensitive to the other, the benefit of combining RA and arsenic in cell culture is controversial, and thus far, no data are available in patients. Using syngenic grafts of leukemic blasts from PML/RARα transgenic mice as a model for APL, we demonstrate that arsenic induces apoptosis and modest differentiation, and prolongs mouse survival. Furthermore, combining arsenic with RA accelerates tumor regression through enhanced differentiation and apoptosis. Although RA or arsenic alone only prolongs survival two- to threefold, associating the two drugs leads to tumor clearance after a 9-mo relapse-free period. These studies establishing RA/arsenic synergy in vivo prompt the use of combined arsenic/RA treatments in APL patients and exemplify how mouse models of human leukemia can be used to design or optimize therapies.
differentiation; apoptosis; cancer; clinical trials; transgenics
Fusion proteins involving the retinoic acid receptor α (RARα) and PML or PLZF nuclear protein are the genetic markers of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). APLs with PML-RARα or PLZF-RARα fusion protein differ only in their response to retinoic acid (RA) treatment: the t(15;17) (PML-RARα-positive) APL blasts are sensitive to RA in vitro, and patients enter disease remission after RA treatment, while those with t(11;17) (PLZF-RARα-positive) APLs do not. Recently it has been shown that complete remission can be achieved upon treatment with arsenic trioxide (As2O3) in PML-RARα-positive APL, even when the patient has relapsed and the disease is RA resistant. This appears to be due to apoptosis induced by As2O3 in the APL blasts by poorly defined mechanisms. Here we report that (i) As2O3 induces apoptosis only in cells expressing the PML-RARα, not the PLZF-RARα, fusion protein; (ii) PML-RARα is partially modified by covalent linkage with a PIC-1/SUMO-1-like protein prior to As2O3 treatment, whereas PLZF-RARα is not; (iii) As2O3 treatment induces a change in the modification pattern of PML-RARα toward highly modified forms; (iv) redistribution of PML nuclear bodies (PML-NBs) upon As2O3 treatment is accompanied by recruitment of PIC-1/SUMO-1 into PML-NBs, probably due to hypermodification of both PML and PML-RARα; (v) As2O3-induced apoptosis is independent of the DNA binding activity located in the RARα portion of the PML-RARα fusion protein; and (vi) the apoptotic process is bcl-2 and caspase 3 independent and is blocked only partially by a global caspase inhibitor. Taken together, these data provide novel insights into the mechanisms involved in As2O3-induced apoptosis in APL and predict that treatment of t(11;17) (PLZF-RARα-positive) APLs with As2O3 will not be successful.
Arsenic trioxide has been successfully used as a therapeutic in the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). Detailed monitoring of the therapeutic arsenic and its metabolites in various accessible specimens of APL patients can contribute to improving treatment efficacy and minimizing arsenic-induced side effects. This article focuses on the determination of arsenic species in saliva samples from APL patients undergoing arsenic treatment. Saliva samples were collected from nine APL patients over three consecutive days. The patients received 10 mg arsenic trioxide each day via intravenous infusion. The saliva samples were analyzed using high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Monomethylarsonous acid and monomethylmonothioarsonic acid were identified along with arsenite, dimethylarsinic acid, monomethylarsonic acid, and arsenate. Arsenite was the predominant arsenic species, accounting for 71.8 % of total arsenic in the saliva. Following the arsenic infusion each day, the percentage of methylated arsenicals significantly decreased, possibly suggesting that the arsenic methylation process was saturated by the high doses immediately after the arsenic infusion. The temporal profiles of arsenic species in saliva following each arsenic infusion over 3 days have provided information on arsenic exposure, metabolism, and excretion. These results suggest that saliva can be used as an appropriate clinical biomarker for monitoring arsenic species in APL patients.
FigureArsenic species and temporal profiles over three days from nine patients
Acute promyelocytic leukemia; Arsenic speciation; Saliva; Metabolism; Arsenic trioxide treatment
It is well recognized that arsenic trioxide (ATO) is an efficacious agent for the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). Use of single agent ATO in the treatment of APL leads to remissions which are durable in the majority. ATO is probably the most effective single agent in the treatment of APL and there have been very few reports of primary resistance. It has been used both as a single agent and in combination with other conventional drugs to treat APL. Use of ATO is the accepted standard of care in the management of relapsed APL, where it is often used effectively as a bridge to a stem cell transplant. However, its role in newly diagnosed APL remains controversial. ATO probably has multiple mechanisms of action. Better understanding of its mechanisms of action/s is likely to lead to more rationale use of this agent or its derivatives either alone or in combination with other drugs. There is limited data on the kinetics of leukemia clearance and normal haematopoietic recovery after the administration of single agent ATO for the treatment of APL, preliminary data suggests that it is likely to be different from conventional therapy. There have been a number of concerns of the potential short and long term toxicity of this agent. Most such concerns arise from the toxicity profile noted in people exposed to long term arsenic exposure in the environment. With the therapeutic doses and schedules of administration of ATO in the treatment of malignancies the overall toxicity profile has been favorable. In a resource constrained environments the use of a single agent ATO based regimen is a realistic and acceptable option to treat almost all patients. In the developed world it has the potential in combination with other agents to improve the clinical outcome with reduction of dose intensity of chemotherapy and remains an option for patients who would not tolerate conventional therapy. In this review we focus on the use of single agent ATO for the treatment of APL and summarize our experience and review the literature.
Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is a malignant disorder of the white blood cells. Arsenic trioxide (As2O3) has been used as a therapeutic agent to treat APL and other tumors. Studies suggest that ascorbic acid (AA) supplementation may improve the clinical outcome of As2O3 for APL patients. Our aim was to use human leukemia (HL-60) APL-cells as an in vitro test model to evaluate the effect of physiologic doses of AA on As2O3-induced toxicity and apoptosis of HL-60 cells.
HL-60 cells were treated either with a pharmacologic dose of As2O3 alone and with several physiologic doses of AA. Cell survival was determined by trypan blue exclusion test. The extent of oxidative cell/tissue damage was determined by measuring lipid hydroperoxide concentration by spectrophotometry. Cell apoptosis was measured by flow cytometry using Annexin-V and propidium iodide (PI) staining.
AA treatment potentiates the cytotoxicity of As2O3 in HL-60 cells. Viability decreased from (58 ± 3)% in cells with As2O3 alone to (47 ± 2)% in cells treated with 100 µM AA and 6 µg/mL As2O3 with P < 0.05. There was a significant (P < 0.05) increase in lipid hydroperoxide concentrations in HL-60 cells co-treated with AA compared to As2O3 alone. Flow cytometry assessment (Annexin V FITC/PI) suggested that AA co-treatment induces more apoptosis of HL-60 cells than did As2O3 alone, but this was not statistically significant. Taken together, our experiment indicates that As2O3 induced in vitro cell death and apoptosis of HL-60 cells. Administration of physiologic doses of AA enhanced As2O3-induced cytotoxicity, oxidative cell/tissue damage, and apoptosis of HL-60 cells through externalization of phosphatidylserine.
These suggest that AA may enhance the cytotoxicity of As2O3, suggesting a possible future role of AA/As2O3 combination therapy in patients with APL.
Arsenic Trioxide; Ascorbic Acid; Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia; Cell Viability; Apoptosis
Arsenic trioxide (ATO) has been recommended for the treatment of refractory cases of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). Recent studies in our laboratory indicated that oxidative stress plays a key role in ATO-induced cytotoxicity in human leukemia (HL-60) cells. In the present investigation, we performed the MTT assay and trypan blue exclusion test for cell viability. We also performed the thiobarbituric acid test to determine the levels of malondialdehyde (MDA) production in HL-60 cells co-exposed to either ascorbic acid (AA) and ATO or to n-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) and ATO. The results of MTT assay indicated that AA exposure potentiates the cytotoxicity of ATO in HL-60 cells, as evidenced by a gradual increase in MDA levels with increasing doses of AA. In contrary, the addition of NAC to ATO-treated HL-60 cells resulted in a dose dependent decrease of MDA production. From these results, we conclude that the addition of the ascorbic acid to ATO-treated HL-60 cells enhances the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) whereas the addition of NAC under the same experimental condition significantly (p<0.05) decreases the level of ROS formation. Based on these direct in vitro findings, our studies provide evidence that AA may extend the therapeutic spectrum of ATO. The co-administration of NAC with ATO shows a potential specificity for tumor cells, indicating it may not enhance the clinical outcome associated with ATO monotherapy in vivo.
Arsenic trioxide; HL-60 cells; MDA; ascorbic acid; n-acetyl-l-cysteine
Event-free survival following all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) –based therapy for acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) averages 70% at 5 years. While arsenic trioxide (ATO) can induce remissions in 95% of relapsed patients, few studies have addressed the integration of ATO into the primary management of APL. This study examines the efficacy of a single cycle of ATO-based consolidation therapy in a treatment regimen designed to decrease exposure to other cytotoxic agents.
Patients and Methods
After induction with ATRA and daunorubicin (DRN), untreated patients with APL received 3 days of cytarabine and DRN followed by 30 doses of ATO beginning on day 8. Molecular remitters received 2 years of risk-based maintenance therapy.
Forty-one of 45 patients receiving induction therapy achieved remission; four patients died (one before treatment was initiated). Thirty-seven patients received consolidation and maintenance; of these one patient relapsed (CNS) and one died in remission during maintenance therapy (hepatic sickle cell crisis). With a median follow-up of 2.7 years, estimated disease-free survival was 90%; overall survival for all patients was 88%. Despite a total anthracycline dose of only 360 mg/m2, cardiac ejection fraction decreased by ≥ 20% in 20% of patients.
These data, combined with other recent studies using ATO in the primary management of APL, demonstrate the important role that ATO can play in the primary management of this curable disease. Future studies should continue to focus on reducing the toxicity of treatment without increasing the relapse rate.
Previously, arsenic trioxide showed impressive regression rates of acute promyelocytic leukemia. Here, we investigated molecular determinants of sensitivity and resistance of cell lines of different tumor types towards arsenic trioxide. Arsenic trioxide was the most cytotoxic compound among 8 arsenicals investigated in the NCI cell line panel. We correlated transcriptome-wide microarray-based mRNA expression to the IC50 values for arsenic trioxide by bioinformatic approaches (COMPARE and hierarchical cluster analyses, Ingenuity signaling pathway analysis). Among the identified pathways were signaling routes for p53, integrin-linked kinase, and actin cytoskeleton. Genes from these pathways significantly predicted cellular response to arsenic trioxide. Then, we analyzed whether classical drug resistance factors may also play a role for arsenic trioxide. Cell lines transfected with cDNAs for catalase, thioredoxin, or the anti-apoptotic bcl-2 gene were more resistant to arsenic trioxide than mock vector transfected cells. Multidrug-resistant cells overexpressing the MDR1, MRP1 or BCRP genes were not cross-resistant to arsenic trioxide. Our approach revealed that response of tumor cells towards arsenic trioxide is multi-factorial.
Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) results from a blockade of granulocyte differentiation at the promyelocytic stage. All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) induces clinical remission in APL patients by enhancing the rapid differentiation of APL cells and the clearance of PML-RARα, APL's hallmark oncoprotein. In the present study, we demonstrated that both autophagy and Beclin 1, an autophagic protein, are upregulated during the course of ATRA-induced neutrophil/granulocyte differentiation of an APL-derived cell line named NB4 cells. This induction of autophagy is associated with downregulation of Bcl-2 and inhibition of mTOR activity. Small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of BECN1 expression enhances apoptosis triggered by ATRA in NB4 cells but does not affect the differentiation process. These results provide evidence that the upregulation of Beclin 1 by ATRA constitutes an anti-apoptotic signal for maintaining the viability of mature APL cells, but has no crucial effect on the granulocytic differentiation. This finding may help to elucidate the mechanisms involved in ATRA resistance of APL patients, and in the ATRA syndrome caused by an accumulation of mature APL cells.
APL; Beclin 1; apoptosis; ATRA; autophagy; differentiation
Since the successful introduction of all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) and its combination with anthracycline-containing chemotherapy, the prognosis for acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) has markedly improved. With ATRA and anthracycline-based-chemotherapy, the complete remission rate is greater than 90%, and the long-term survival rate is 70-89%. Moreover, arsenic trioxide (ATO), which was introduced for APL treatment in 1994, resulted in excellent remission rates in relapsed patients with APL, and more recently, several clinical studies have been designed to explore its role in initial therapy either alone or in combination with ATRA. APL is a rare disease in children and is frequently associated with hyperleukocytosis, which is a marker for higher risk of relapse and an increased incidence of microgranular morphology. The frequency of occurrence of the promyelocytic leukemia/retinoic acid receptor-alpha (PML/RARα) isoforms bcr 2 and bcr 3 is higher in children than in adults. Although recent clinical studies have reported comparable long-term survival rates in patients with APL, therapy for APL in children is challenging because of the risk of early death and the potential long-term cardiac toxicity resulting from the need to use high doses of anthracyclines. Additional prospective, randomized, large clinical trials are needed to address several issues in pediatric APL and to possibly minimize or eliminate the need for chemotherapy by combining ATRA and ATO. In this review article, we discuss the molecular pathogenesis, diagnostic progress, and most recent therapeutic advances in the treatment of children with APL.
Acute promyelocytic leukemia; Child; PML-RARA; Tretinoin; Arsenic trioxide; Anthracycline
Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) frequently occurs in patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). With the induction of therapy in APL using all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), DIC can be controlled in most cases as ATRA usually shows immediate improvement of the APL. However, arsenic trioxide (ATO) which has been used for the treatment of relapse in APL patients has shown to take time to suppress APL cells, therefore the control of DIC in APL with ATO treatment is a major problem. Recently, the recombinant soluble thrombomodulin fragment has received a lot of attention as the novel drug for the treatment of DIC with high efficacy. Here, we present a relapsed patient with APL in whom DIC was successfully and safely controlled by rTM during treatment with ATO.
Arsenic-based compounds have become accepted agents for cancer therapy providing high rates of remission of some cancers such as acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). The mechanisms by which arsenic-containing compounds kill cells and
reasons for selective killing of only certain types of cancer cells such as APLs have recently been delineated. This knowledge
was gained in parallel with increasing understanding and awareness of the importance of intracellular redox systems and
regulation of the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by controlling mitochondrial function. Many of the targets for
the arsenic-containing compounds are mitochondrial proteins involved in regulating the production of ROS. Inhibition of these
proteins by disulfide linkage of vicinal thiol groups often leads to increased production of ROS and induction of apoptotic
signalling pathways. Sensitivity or resistance to the actions of arsenic-containing compounds on cancer cells and normal
cells depends on the levels of transport systems for their uptake or efflux from the cells as well as their redox defence
mechanisms. The exact mechanisms of arsenic toxicity as well as its anticancer properties are likely to be related and these
aspects of arsenic metabolism are covered in this review. Greater understanding of the mechanisms of action of arsenic will
help determine the risks of human exposure to this chemical. Novel organic arsenic-containing compounds and the lessons
learned from studying their selective sensitivity in targeting dividing endothelial cells to inhibit angiogenesis raise the future
possibility for designing better targeted antineoplastic arsenic-containing compounds with less toxicity to normal cells.
Myeloid sarcoma (MS, previously named granulocytic sarcoma or chloroma) is a rare extramedullary tumour of immature myeloid cells. It can be present before, concurrently with, or after the diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia. MS is extremely uncommon in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). In the case described here, MS was the sole site of APL relapse and the cause of spinal cord compression. The patient presented with neurologic symptoms due to a paravertebral mass of MS after 7 years of complete remission. He was treated with excision of the mass followed by local radiotherapy. Systemic treatment was also given with combined arsenic trioxide and all-trans retinoic acid and the patient was able to achieve a second prolonged clinical and molecular remission.
Aurora kinase ensures accurate chromosome segregation during cell cycle, maintaining genetic integrity in cell division. VX-680, a small-molecule Aurora kinase inhibitor, interferes with mitotic entry and formation of bipolar spindles. Here, we evaluated VX-680 as a potential agent for treatment of all-trans retinoid acid (ATRA)-resistant acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) in vitro.
CD11b expression was utilized to assess cell differentiation by flow cytometry. Immunofluorescence staining was conducted to analyze formation of cell monopolar spindle. Cell proliferation was evaluated by MTT assay. Sub-G1 population and Annexin V/PI staining were used to measure cell apoptosis. Hoechst 33342 staining was applied for identifying morphological changes in nucleus of apoptotic cell. Aurora-A (Aur-A) activation and the signaling pathways involved in apoptosis were detected by Western blot. JC-1 probe was employed to measure mitochondrial depolarization.
VX-680 inhibited Aur-A by reducing autophosphorylation at the activation site, Thr288, accompanied by producing monopolar mitotic spindles in APL cell line NB4-R2 that was resistant to ATRA. In addition, we found that VX-680 inhibited cell proliferation as assessed by MTT assay. Flow cytometry showed that VX-680 led to apoptotic cell death in both dose- and time-dependent manners by either Sub-G1 or Annexin V/PI analysis. Hoechst 33342 staining represented typical apoptotic cells with nuclear fragmentation in VX-680 treated cells. Importantly, VX-680 inhibition of Aurora kinase suppressed Akt-1 activation and induced mitochondrial depolarization, which eventually resulted in apoptosis by activation of caspase pathway, as indicated by increasing proteolytic cleavage of procaspase-3 and poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) in NB4-R2 cells.
Our study suggested potential clinical use of mitotic Aurora kinase inhibitor in targeting ATRA-resistant leukemic cells.
Translation initiation and activity of eukaryotic initiation factor-alpha (eIF2α), the rate-limiting step of translation initiation, is often overactivated in malignant cells. Here, we investigated the regulation and role of eIF2α in acute promyelocytic (APL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells in response to all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and arsenic trioxide (ATO), the front-line therapies in APL. ATRA and ATO induce Ser-51 phosphorylation (inactivation) of eIF2α, through the induction of protein kinase C delta (PKCδ) and PKR, but not other eIF2α kinases, such as GCN2 and PERK in APL (NB4) and AML cells (HL60, U937, and THP-1). Inhibition of eIF2α reduced the expression of cellular proteins that are involved in apoptosis (DAP5/p97), cell cycle (p21Waf1/Cip1), differentiation (TG2) and induced those regulating proliferation (c-myc) and survival (p70S6K). PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway is involved in regulation of eIF2α through PKCδ/PKR axis. PKCδ and p-eIF2α protein expression levels revealed a significant association between the reduced levels of PKCδ (P = 0.0378) and peIF2 (P = 0.0041) and relapses in AML patients (n = 47). In conclusion, our study provides the first evidence that PKCδ regulates/inhibits eIF2α through induction of PKR in AML cells and reveals a novel signaling mechanism regulating translation initiation.
Tien-Hsien Liquid (THL) is a Chinese herbal mixture that has been used worldwide as complementary treatment for cancer patients in the past decade. Recently, THL has been shown to induce apoptosis in various types of solid tumor cells in vitro. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms have not yet been well elucidated. In this study, we explored the effects of THL on acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) NB4 cells, which could be effectively treated by some traditional Chinese remedies containing arsenic trioxide. The results showed THL could induce G2/M arrest and apoptosis in NB4 cells. Accordingly, the decrease of cyclin A and B1 were observed in THL-treated cells. The THL-induced apoptosis was accompanied with caspase-3 activation and decrease of PML-RARα fusion protein. Moreover, DNA methyltransferase 1 and oncogenic signaling pathways such as Akt/mTOR, Stat3 and ERK were also down-regulated by THL. By using ethyl acetate extraction and silica gel chromatography, an active fraction of THL named as EAS5 was isolated. At about 0.5–1% of the dose of THL, EAS5 appeared to have most of THL-induced multiple molecular targeting effects in NB4 cells. Based on the findings of these multi-targeting effects, THL might be regarding as a complementary and alternative therapeutic agent for refractory APL.
In the relapsed setting, arsenic trioxide remains the backbone of treatment. Scant literature exists regarding treatment of relapsed acute promyelocytic leukemia in patients with renal failure. To the best of our knowledge we are the first to report a safe and effective means of treatment for relapsed acute promyelocytic leukemia in the setting of advanced renal failure, employing titration of arsenic trioxide based on clinical parameters rather than arsenic trioxide levels.
A 33-year-old Caucasian man with a history of acute promyelocytic leukemia in remission for 3 years, as well as dialysis-dependent chronic renal failure secondary to a solitary kidney and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis and human immunodeficiency virus infection, receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy presented to our hospital with bone marrow biopsy-confirmed relapsed acute promyelocytic leukemia. Arsenic trioxide was begun at a low dose with dose escalation based only on side effect profile monitoring and not laboratory testing for induction as well as maintenance without undue toxicity. Our patient achieved and remains in complete hematologic and molecular remission as of this writing.
Arsenic trioxide can be used safely and effectively to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia in patients with advanced renal failure using careful monitoring of side effects rather than blood levels of arsenic to guide therapeutic dosing.
Arsenic trioxide has been established as a first-line agent for treating acute promyelocytic leukemia. Experimental data suggest that arsenic trioxide also can have a potential use as chemotherapeutic agent for other malignancies. The precise mechanisms of action of arsenic trioxide have though not been elucidated. As the role of Bcl-2 in arsenic trioxide-mediated cell apoptosis and conformation change of Bcl-2 in response to arsenic trioxide treatment has not been studied. The aim of the present study was to determine whether conformation change of Bcl-2 is involved in the action of arsenic trioxide.
Human gastric cancer SGC7901 cells were exposed to different concentrations of arsenic trioxide. Proliferation was measured by using the Kit-8 cell counting assay. Analysis of nuclear morphology was observed by DAPI staining. The apoptosis rates of cells treated with arsenic trioxide were analyzed by flow cytometry using Annexin V-FITC staining. The conformation change of Bcl-2 and Bax activation were detected by immunostaining and Western blot analysis. Total expression of Bcl-2 and Bax were examined by Western blot analysis.
Arsenic trioxide inhibited the growth of human gastric cancer SGC7901 cells and induced apoptosis. There were two Bcl-2 phenotypes coexisting in SGC7901 cells and the Bcl-2 cytoprotective phenotype could change into a cytodestructive phenotype following conformational change of Bcl-2, triggered by arsenic trioxide exposure. Bax activation might also be involved in arsenic trioxide-induced Bcl-2 conformational change. Arsenic trioxide did not change levels of total Bcl-2 expression, but up-regulated total Bax expression for the treatment time ranging from 3 to 24 hours.
Arsenic trioxide induces apoptosis through induction of Bcl-2 conformational change, Bax activation and up-regulation of total Bax expression rather than affecting total Bcl-2 expression in human gastric cancer SGC7901 cells. The conformational change of Bcl-2 may be a novel described mechanism of arsenic trioxide-induced apoptosis in cancer cells.
The promyelocytic leukemia protein (PML) gene of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) encodes a cell growth and tumor suppressor essential for multiple apoptotic signals. Daxx was identified as a molecule important for the cytoplasmic transduction of the Fas proapoptotic stimulus. Here, we show that upon mitogenic activation of mature splenic lymphocytes, Daxx is dramatically upregulated and accumulates in the PML nuclear body (NB) where PML and Daxx physically interact. In the absence of PML, Daxx acquires a dispersed nuclear pattern, and activation-induced cell death of splenocytes is profoundly impaired. PML inactivation results in the complete abrogation of the Daxx proapoptotic ability. In APL cells, Daxx is delocalized from the NB. Upon retinoic acid treatment, which induces disease remission in APL, Daxx relocalizes to the PML NBs. These results indicate that PML and Daxx cooperate in a novel NB-dependent pathway for apoptosis and shed new light in the role of PML in tumor suppression.
apoptosis; PML; Daxx; nuclear body; acute promyelocytic leukemia
Differentiation therapy for acute myeloid leukemia uses transcriptional modulators to reprogram cancer cells. The most relevant clinical example is acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), which responds dramatically to either retinoic acid (RA) or arsenic trioxide (As2O3). In many myeloid leukemia cell lines, cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) triggers growth arrest, cell death, or differentiation, often in synergy with RA. Nevertheless, the toxicity of cAMP derivatives and lack of suitable models has hampered trials designed to assess the in vivo relevance of theses observations. We show that, in an APL cell line, cAMP analogs blocked cell growth and unraveled As2O3-triggered differentiation. Similarly, in RA-sensitive or RA-resistant mouse models of APL, continuous infusions of 8-chloro-cyclic adenosine monophosphate (8-Cl-cAMP) triggered major growth arrest, greatly enhanced both spontaneous and RA- or As2O3-induced differentiation and accelerated the restoration of normal hematopoiesis. Theophylline, a well-tolerated phosphodiesterase inhibitor which stabilizes endogenous cAMP, also impaired APL growth and enhanced spontaneous or As2O3-triggered cell differentiation in vivo. Accordingly, in an APL patient resistant to combined RA–As2O3 therapy, theophylline induced blast clearance and restored normal hematopoiesis. Taken together, these results demonstrate that in vivo activation of cAMP signaling contributes to APL clearance, independently of its RA-sensitivity, thus raising hopes that other myeloid leukemias may benefit from this therapeutic approach.
theophylline; arsenic; retinoic acid; transgenic mice; clinical trial
The PML–RARA fusion protein is found in approximately 97% of patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). APL can be associated with life-threatening bleeding complications when undiagnosed and not treated expeditiously. The PML–RARA fusion protein arrests maturation of myeloid cells at the promyelocytic stage, leading to the accumulation of neoplastic promyelocytes. Complete remission can be obtained by treatment with all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) in combination with chemotherapy. Diagnosis of APL is based on the detection of t(15;17) by karyotyping, fluorescence in situ hybridization or PCR. These techniques are laborious and demand specialized laboratories. We developed a fast (performed within 4–5 h) and sensitive (detection of at least 10% malignant cells in normal background) flow cytometric immunobead assay for the detection of PML–RARA fusion proteins in cell lysates using a bead-bound anti-RARA capture antibody and a phycoerythrin-conjugated anti-PML detection antibody. Testing of 163 newly diagnosed patients (including 46 APL cases) with the PML–RARA immunobead assay showed full concordance with the PML–RARA PCR results. As the applied antibodies recognize outer domains of the fusion protein, the assay appeared to work independently of the PML gene break point region. Importantly, the assay can be used in parallel with routine immunophenotyping for fast and easy diagnosis of APL.
PML–RARA protein; t(15;17); APL; immunobead; flow cytometry
Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) represents a remarkable disease in which leukemogenesis is driven by the PML-RARα oncogene and for which targeted treatment with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA)–based therapy allows substantial chance of cure. APL is seen in a small subset of older patients, with age representing one of the most important prognostic factors for outcome of treatment. Unlike other acute leukemias, the inferior outcomes for APL in older patients relates less to changes in disease biology and more to increased toxicity of ATRA and chemotherapy combination regimens used to induce hematologic and molecular responses. Risk-adapted strategies that use less-toxic agents, such as arsenic trioxide, allow treatment of older patients, with greater efficiency and better chances of cure.
Older patient; all-trans retinoic acid; acute promyelocytic leukemia; arsenic