Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a malignant disease characterized by abnormal proliferation of clonal precursor cells. Although different strategies have been adopted to obtain complete remission, the disease actually progresses in about 60-70% of patients. Bortezomib has been used in multiple myeloma and other lymphoid malignancies because of its antitumor activity. Here we examined the sensitivity of bone marrow cells from AML patients (34 patients: 25 newly diagnosed, 4 relapsed, 5 refractory) to bortezomib alone or in combination with TRAIL, a member of the TNF family that induces apoptosis in tumor cells while sparing normal cells. Bortezomib induced cell death in blasts from each patient sample. The cytotoxic effect was dose- and time-dependent (concentration from 0.001 to 10 μM for 24 and 48 h) and was associated with a downregulation of Bcl-xL and Mcl-1, an upregulation of TRAIL-R1, TRAIL-R2, p21, activation of executioner caspases and a loss of the mitochondrial membrane potential. Moreover, low doses of bortezomib primed TRAIL-resistant AML cells for enhanced TRAIL-mediated killing. These results suggest that a combination of proteasome inhibitors and TRAIL could be effective for treating AML patients, even patients who are refractory to conventional chemotherapy.
- Acute myeloid leukemia
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