Retinoic acid and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor synergistically induce leukocyte alkaline phosphatase in acute promyelocytic leukemia cells

M. Gianni, M. Terao, S. Zanotta, T. Barbui, A. Rambaldi, E. Garattini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this report we show a strong synergistic interaction between granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) and all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) on the expression of leukocyte alkaline phosphatase (LAP) in freshly isolated acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) blasts as well as in NB40 and HL- 60 cell lines. The strong synergism observed in these cell types was not evident in two acute leukemia cell lines (K562 and GF-D8), in normal granulocytes, and in monocytes. In freshly isolated leukocytes derived from chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), in the stable phase of the disease, a weaker interaction between ATRA and G-CSF was documented. The cross-talk between the cytokine and the retinoid was studied in detail in NB4, an immortalized APL leukemia cell line, retaining the 15-17 chromosomal translocation involving the retinoic acid receptor type α. The treatment of NB4 cells with G-CSF alone or ATRA alone leads to no increase and to minor induction in LAP activity, respectively. If the cells are treated with the two compounds simultaneously, a dramatic elevation of LAP is observed after 4 days. The synergism between G-CSF and ATRA is evident at concentrations of the retinoid between 10-7 and 10-5 mol/L and at concentrations of the cytokine between 1 and 10 ng/mL. The simultaneous presence of the two compounds is necessary to obtain maximal increase of LAP activity and the effect is cell density-dependent. Synergism is specific for G-CSF, and it is not observed with other cytokines and functional inducers of the granulocyte. The augmentation of LAP activity is the consequence of an increased transcriptional rate of the liver/bone/kidney-type (L/B/K-type) alkaline phosphatase gene, as determined by Northern blotting and nuclear run-on analysis using specific cDNA probes. Only one of the two possible alternatively spliced forms of L/B/K-type alkaline phosphatase transcript is detected in NB4 cells after stimulation with G-CSF and ATRA. This mRNA form, which is the one observed in normal polymorphonuclear leukocytes, contains the most upstream leader exon. In NB4 cells, ATRA induces G-CSF, α, and β retinoic acid receptor transcripts, whereas G-CSF has minor effects on the expression of these mRNAs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1909-1921
Number of pages13
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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