Mechanisms of synergistic antileukemic interactions between valproic acid and cytarabine in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia.
ABSTRACT: To determine the possibility of synergistic antileukemic activity and the underlying molecular mechanisms associated with cytarabine combined with valproic acid (VPA; a histone deacetylase inhibitor and a Food and Drug Administration-licensed drug for treating both children and adults with epilepsy) in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML).The type and extent of antileukemic interactions between cytarabine and VPA in clinically relevant pediatric AML cell lines and diagnostic blasts from children with AML were determined by MTT assays and standard isobologram analyses. The effects of cytarabine and VPA on apoptosis and cell cycle distributions were determined by flow cytometry analysis and caspase enzymatic assays. The effects of the two agents on DNA damage and Bcl-2 family proteins were determined by Western blotting.We showed synergistic antileukemic activities between cytarabine and VPA in four pediatric AML cell lines and nine diagnostic AML blast samples. t(8;21) AML blasts were significantly more sensitive to VPA and showed far greater sensitivities to combined cytarabine and VPA than non-t(8;21) AML cases. Cytarabine and VPA cooperatively induced DNA double-strand breaks, reflected in induction of ?H2AX and apoptosis, accompanied by activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3. Further, VPA induced Bim expression and short hairpin RNA knockdown of Bim resulted in significantly decreased apoptosis induced by cytarabine and by cytarabine plus VPA.Our results establish global synergistic antileukemic activity of combined VPA and cytarabine in pediatric AML and provide compelling evidence to support the use of VPA in the treatment of children with this deadly disease.
Project description:Investigate antileukemic activity of artemisinins, artesunate (ART), and dihydroartemisinin (DHA), in combination with cytarabine, a key component of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) chemotherapy using in vitro and in vivo models.Using ten human AML cell lines, we conducted a high-throughput screen to identify antimalarial agents with antileukemic activity. We evaluated effects of ART and DHA on cell viability, cytotoxicity, apoptosis, lysosomal integrity, and combination effects with cytarabine in cell lines and primary patient blasts. In vivo pharmacokinetic studies and efficacy of single-agent ART or combination with cytarabine were evaluated in three xenograft models.ART and DHA had the most potent activity in a panel of AML cell lines, with selectivity toward samples harboring MLL rearrangements and FLT3-ITD mutations. Combination of ART or DHA was synergistic with cytarabine. Single-dose ART (120 mg/kg) produced human equivalent exposures, but multiple dose daily administration required for in vivo efficacy was not tolerated. Combination treatment produced initial regression, but did not prolong survival in vivo.The pharmacology of artemisinins is problematic and should be considered in designing AML treatment strategies with currently available agents. Artemisinins with improved pharmacokinetic properties may offer therapeutic benefit in combination with conventional therapeutic strategies in AML.
Project description:Resistance to cytarabine and anthracycline-based chemotherapy is a major cause of treatment failure for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. Overexpression of Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, and/or Mcl-1 has been associated with chemoresistance in AML cell lines and with poor clinical outcome of AML patients. Thus, inhibitors of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins could be novel therapeutic agents. In this study, we investigated how clinically achievable concentrations of obatoclax, a pan-Bcl-2 inhibitor, potentiate the antileukemic activity of cytarabine in AML cells. MTT assays in AML cell lines and diagnostic blasts, as well as flow cytometry analyses in AML cell lines revealed synergistic antileukemic activity between cytarabine and obatoclax. Bax activation was detected in the combined, but not the individual, drug treatments. This was accompanied by significantly increased loss of mitochondrial membrane potential. Most importantly, in AML cells treated with the combination, enhanced early induction of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) preceded a decrease of Mcl-1 levels, nuclear translocation of Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, and Mcl-1, and apoptosis. These results indicate that obatoclax enhances cytarabine-induced apoptosis by enhancing DNA DSBs. This novel mechanism provides compelling evidence for the clinical use of BH3 mimetics in combination with DNA-damaging agents in AML and possibly a broader range of malignancies.
Project description:Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) continues to be a challenging disease to treat, thus new treatment strategies are needed. In this study, we investigated the antileukemic effects of ATR inhibition alone or combined with cytarabine in AML cells. Treatment with the ATR-selective inhibitor AZ20 caused proliferation inhibition in AML cell lines and primary patient samples. It partially abolished the G2 cell cycle checkpoint and caused DNA replication stress and damage, accompanied by CDK1-independent apoptosis and downregulation of RRM1 and RRM2. AZ20 synergistically enhanced cytarabine-induced proliferation inhibition and apoptosis, abolished cytarabine-induced S and G2/M cell cycle arrest, and cooperated with cytarabine in inducing DNA replication stress and damage in AML cell lines. These key findings were confirmed with another ATR-selective inhibitor AZD6738. Therefore, the cooperative induction of DNA replication stress and damage by ATR inhibition and cytarabine, and the ability of ATR inhibition to abrogate the G2 cell cycle checkpoint both contributed to the synergistic induction of apoptosis and proliferation inhibition in AML cell lines. Synergistic antileukemic interactions between AZ20 and cytarabine were confirmed in primary AML patient samples. Our findings provide insight into the mechanism of action underlying the synergistic antileukemic activity of ATR inhibition in combination with cytarabine in AML.
Project description:Aberrantly expressed tyrosine kinases have emerged as promising targets for drug development in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We report that AKN-028, a novel tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), is a potent FMS-like receptor tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) inhibitor (IC(50)=6?nM), causing dose-dependent inhibition of FLT3 autophosphorylation. Inhibition of KIT autophosphorylation was shown in a human megakaryoblastic leukemia cell line overexpressing KIT. In a panel of 17 cell lines, AKN-028 showed cytotoxic activity in all five AML cell lines included. AKN-028 triggered apoptosis in MV4-11 by activation of caspase 3. In primary AML samples (n=15), AKN-028 induced a clear dose-dependent cytotoxic response (mean IC(50) 1??M). However, no correlation between antileukemic activity and FLT3 mutation status, or to the quantitative expression of FLT3, was observed. Combination studies showed synergistic activity when cytarabine or daunorubicin was added simultaneously or 24?h before AKN-028. In mice, AKN-028 demonstrated high oral bioavailability and antileukemic effect in primary AML and MV4-11 cells, with no major toxicity observed in the experiment. In conclusion, AKN-028 is a novel TKI with significant preclinical antileukemic activity in AML. Possible sequence-dependent synergy with standard AML drugs and good oral bioavailability has made it a candidate drug for clinical trials (ongoing).
Project description:Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) has grave prognosis due to aggressive nature of the disease, the toxicity of standard treatment, and overall low cure rates. We recently showed that AML cells in established culture treated with Cytarabine (AraC) and a differentiation agent combination show enhancement of AraC cytotoxicity. Here we elucidate molecular changes which underlie this observation with focus on AML blasts in primary culture. The cells were treated with AraC at concentrations achievable in clinical settings, and followed by the addition of Doxercalciferol, a vitamin D2 derivative (D2), together with Carnosic acid (CA), a plant-derived antioxidant. Importantly, although AraC is also toxic to normal bone marrow cell population, the enhanced cell kill by D2/CA was limited to malignant blasts. This enhancement of cell death was associated with activation of the monocytic differentiation program as shown by molecular markers, and the increased expression of vitamin D receptor (VDR). Apoptosis elicited by this treatment is caspase-dependent, and the optimal blast killing required the increased expression of the apoptosis regulator Bim. These data suggest that testing of this regimen in the clinic is warranted.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains a challenging disease to treat even with intensified cytarabine-based chemotherapy. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) have been reported to be promising therapeutic targets for treating AML. However, HDAC family members that are involved in chemotherapy sensitivities remain unknown. In this study, we sought to identify members of the HDAC family that are involved in cytarabine sensitivities, and to select the optimal HDACI that is most efficacious when combined with cytarabine for treating children with AML. METHODOLOGY: Expression profiles of classes I, II, and IV HDACs in 4 pediatric AML cell lines were determined by Western blotting. Inhibition of class I HDACs by different HDACIs was measured post immnunoprecipitation. Individual down-regulation of HDACs in pediatric AML cells was performed with lentiviral shRNA. The effects of cytarabine and HDACIs on apoptosis were determined by flow cytometry analysis. RESULTS: Treatments with structurally diverse HDACIs and HDAC shRNA knockdown experiments revealed that down-regulation of both HDACs 1 and 6 is critical in enhancing cytarabine-induced apoptosis in pediatric AML, at least partly mediated by Bim. However, down-regulation of HDAC2 may negatively impact cytarabine sensitivities in the disease. At clinically achievable concentrations, HDACIs that simultaneously inhibited both HDACs 1 and 6 showed the best anti-leukemic activities and significantly enhanced cytarabine-induced apoptosis. CONCLUSION: Our results further confirm that HDACs are bona fide therapeutic targets for treating pediatric AML and suggest that pan-HDACIs may be more beneficial than isoform-specific drugs.
Project description:Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a genetically heterogeneous cancer that frequently exhibits aberrant kinase signaling. We investigated a treatment strategy combining sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor with limited single-agent activity in AML, and cytarabine, a key component of AML chemotherapy.Using 10 human AML cell lines, we determined the effects of sorafenib (10 ?M) on antileukemic activity by measuring cell viability, proliferation, ERK1/2 signaling, and apoptosis. We also investigated the effects of sorafenib treatment on the accumulation of cytarabine and phosphorylated metabolites in vitro. A human equivalent dose of sorafenib in nontumor-bearing NOD-SCID-IL2R?(null) mice was determined by pharmacokinetic studies using high performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometric detection, and steady-state concentrations were estimated by the fit of a one-compartment pharmacokinetic model to concentration-time data. The antitumor activity of sorafenib alone (60 mg/kg) twice daily, cytarabine alone (6.25 mg/kg administered intraperitoneally), or sorafenib once or twice daily plus cytarabine was evaluated in NOD-SCID-IL2R?(null) mice bearing AML xenografts.Sorafenib at 10 ?M inhibited cell viability, proliferation and ERK1/2 signaling, and induced apoptosis in all cell lines studied. Sorafenib also increased the cellular accumulation of cytarabine and metabolites resulting in additive to synergistic antileukemic activity. A dose of 60 mg/kg in mice produced a human equivalent sorafenib steady-state plasma exposure of 10 ?M. The more dose-intensive twice-daily sorafenib plus cytarabine (n = 15) statistically significantly prolonged median survival in an AML xenograft model compared with sorafenib once daily plus cytarabine (n = 12), cytarabine alone (n = 26), or controls (n = 27) (sorafenib twice daily plus cytarabine, median survival = 46 days; sorafenib once daily plus cytarabine, median survival = 40 days; cytarabine alone, median survival = 36 days; control, median survival = 19 days; P < .001 for combination twice daily vs all other treatments listed).Sorafenib in combination with cytarabine resulted in strong anti-AML activity in vitro and in vivo. These results warrant clinical evaluation of sorafenib with cytarabine-based regimens in molecularly heterogeneous AML.
Project description:Dasatinib is a compound developed for chronic myeloid leukemia as a multi-targeted kinase inhibitor against wild-type BCR-ABL and SRC family kinases. Valproic acid (VPA) is an anti-epileptic drug that also acts as a class I histone deacetylase inhibitor. The aim of this research was to determine the anti-leukemic effects of dasatinib and VPA in combination and to identify their mechanism of action in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells. Dasatinib was found to exert potent synergistic inhibitory effects on VPA-treated AML cells in association with G1 phase cell cycle arrest and apoptosis induction involving the cleavage of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase and caspase-3, -7 and -9. Dasatinib/VPA-induced cell death thus occurred via caspase-dependent apoptosis. Moreover, MEK/ERK and p38 MAPK inhibitors efficiently inhibited dasatinib/VPA-induced apoptosis. The combined effect of dasatinib and VPA on the differentiation capacity of AML cells was more powerful than the effect of each drug alone, being sufficiently strong to promote AML cell death through G1 cell cycle arrest and caspase-dependent apoptosis. MEK/ERK and p38 MAPK were found to control dasatinib/VPA-induced apoptosis as upstream regulators, and co-treatment with dasatinib and VPA to contribute to AML cell death through the regulation of differentiation capacity. Taken together, these results indicate that combined dasatinib and VPA treatment has a potential role in anti-leukemic therapy.
Project description:Epigenetic modifying enzymes such as histone deacetylases (HDACs), p300, and PRMT1 are recruited by AML1/ETO, the pathogenic protein for t(8;21) acute myeloid leukemia (AML), providing a strong molecular rationale for targeting these enzymes to treat this disease. Although early phase clinical assessment indicated that treatment with HDAC inhibitors (HDACis) may be effective in t(8;21) AML patients, rigorous preclinical studies to identify the molecular and biological events that may determine therapeutic responses have not been performed. Using an AML mouse model driven by expression of AML1/ETO9a (A/E9a), we demonstrated that treatment of mice bearing t(8;21) AML with the HDACi panobinostat caused a robust antileukemic response that did not require functional p53 nor activation of conventional apoptotic pathways. Panobinostat triggered terminal myeloid differentiation via proteasomal degradation of A/E9a. Importantly, conditional A/E9a deletion phenocopied the effects of panobinostat and other HDACis, indicating that destabilization of A/E9a is critical for the antileukemic activity of these agents.
Project description:Molecular aberrations of the Ras/Raf/mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) kinase (MEK)/ERK and/or Murine double minute (MDM2)/p53 signaling pathways have been reported in 80% and 50% of primary acute myeloid leukemia (AML) samples and confer poor outcome. In this study, antileukemic effects of combined MEK inhibition by AZD6244 and nongenotoxic p53 activation by MDM2 antagonist Nutlin-3a were investigated. Simultaneous blockade of MEK and MDM2 signaling by AZD6244 and Nutlin-3a triggered synergistic proapoptotic responses in AML cell lines [combination index (CI) = 0.06 +/- 0.03 and 0.43 +/- 0.03 in OCI/AML3 and MOLM13 cells, respectively] and in primary AML cells (CI = 0.52 +/- 0.01). Mechanistically, the combination upregulated levels of BH3-only proteins Puma and Bim, in part via transcriptional upregulation of the FOXO3a transcription factor. Suppression of Puma and Bim by short interfering RNA rescued OCI/AML3 cells from AZD/Nutlin-induced apoptosis. These results strongly indicate the therapeutic potential of combined MEK/MDM2 blockade in AML and implicate Puma and Bim as major regulators of AML cell survival.