Recent sudies suggest that the Bcl-2 and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways together confer an aggressive, apoptosis-resistant phenotype on acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) cells. In this study, we analyzed the effects of simultaneous inhibition of these 2 pathways. In AML cell lines with constitutively activated MAPK, MAPK kinase (MEK) blockade by PD184352 strikingly potentiated the apoptosis induced by the small-molecule Bcl-2 inhibitor HA14-1 or by Bcl-2 antisense oligonucleotides. Isobologram analysis confirmed the synergistic nature of this interaction. Moreover, MEK blockade overcame Bcl-2 overexpression-mediated resistance to the proapoptotic effects of HA14-1. Most importantly, simultaneous exposure to PD184352 significantly (P = .01) potentiated HA14-1-mediated inhibition of clonogenic growth in all primary AML samples tested. These findings show that the Bcl-2 and MAPK pathways are relevant molecular targets in AML and that their concurrent inhibition could be developed into a new therapeutic strategy for this disease.
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