Fas-R is expressed constitutively in CD34+ cells of patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML); Fas-R triggering results in decreased proliferation rate due to apoptosis of clonogenic cells. We have already shown that α-interferon (IFN-α) enhances Fas-R expression on CML progenitor cells, thus increasing their sensitivity to Fas-R agonists. Although it appears that IFN-α can prime CML cells for the effects of Fas, the response to IFN-α in vivo is not a constant feature in CML patients. We studied the mechanisms of Fas-mediated apoptosis in 11 patients suffering from CML in chronic phase and tried to see whether there was a correlation between in vitro inducibility of apoptosis in CD34+ CML cells after Fas-R triggering and the clinical response to IFN-α. After priming with IFN-α, Fas triggering resulted in in vitro suppression of hematopoietic cell growth in seven of eight patients who had optimal hematologic response to IFN-α; in the same conditions, no inhibitory response to Fas-R agonist was observed in cells from three of three patients who proved to be poor responders to IFN- α. In responders to IFN-α, Fas-R agonist induced dose-dependent apoptosis of CD34+ cells; this effect was associated with a decrease in the bcr/abl protein level. In cells derived from patients with a poor response to IFN- α, the rate of apoptosis in culture remained unchanged in the presence of Fas-R agonist and no bcr/abl down-modulation was observed. Finally, we measured bcr/abl mRNA by quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and found that decreased bcr/abl protein after Fas triggering was not associated with decreased amounts of specific mRNA, a finding which is consistent with a posttranscriptional regulation of the bcr/abl protein expression. It appears that Fas-mediated down-modulation of p210 bcr/abl restores susceptibility to apoptosis of CML cells; in addition, in vitro studies on CML cells may predict response to IFN-α treatment.
|Number of pages||9|
|Publication status||Published - Aug 1 1998|
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