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Leukemia. 1999 Dec;13(12):1943-53.

Clinical significance of CD95, Bcl-2 and Bax expression and CD95 function in adult de novo acute myeloid leukemia in context of P-glycoprotein function, maturation stage, and cytogenetics.

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  • 1Dept of Hematology, Oncology, and Tumor Immunology, Robert-Rössle-Clinic, Charité, Humboldt-University of Berlin, Germany.


Resistance to chemotherapy-induced apoptosis and a multidrug-resistance (MDR) phenotype, mainly mediated by P-glycoprotein (P-gp), contribute to chemotherapy failure in hematologic malignancies. To study apoptosis-regulating factors in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), we investigated cell samples of adults with de novo AML by flow cytometry for constitutive expression levels of the apoptosis-related molecules CD95 (n = 135), Bcl-2 (n = 131), and Bax (n = 66), as well as spontaneous apoptosis in vitro (n = 104) and susceptibility to anti-CD95-induced apoptosis (CD95 sensitivity) (n = 93). We correlated these findings with P-gp function as detected by the rhodamine123-efflux test (n = 121), immunophenotype, FAB morphology, cytogenetics, and clinical data of the examined patients. Immature FAB M0/1 AML cells expressed significantly more Bcl-2 (P < 0.0002) and less CD95 (P < 0.0003) compared with AML cells of the more mature FAB M2-5 subtypes. No maturation-dependent difference in Bax expression was observed. FAB M2-5 AML cells were more susceptible to anti-CD95-induced apoptosis (P < 0.008) and showed a lower P-gp function (P < 0.002) than FAB M0/1 AML cells. Leukemic cells of AML patients who achieved a complete remission (CR) after induction chemotherapy expressed less Bcl-2 than non-responder (NR) (69 CR, 23 NR; P = 0.05). CR was associated with a higher extent of spontaneous apoptosis in vitro (58 CR, 17 NR; P=0.05) and a tendency towards a higher CD95 expression (73 CR, 23 NR; P = 0.08) compared to NR. CR also correlated with a low P-gp function (70 CR, 21 NR; P = 0.008) and a tendency towards CD34 negativity (73 CR, 23 NR; P = 0.08). No correlation between Bax expression and response to induction chemotherapy (49 CR, 12 NR) was observed. In stepwise logistic regression analyses, P-gp function and the extent of spontaneous apoptosis in vitro as well as CD95 sensitivity but not Bcl-2, CD95, Bax, and CD34 expression levels emerged as significant markers for response to induction chemotherapy. We conclude that the constitutive expression of CD95 and Bcl-2, as well as CD95 sensitivity and P-gp function but not constitutive Bax expression depend on the maturation stage of leukemic cells in adult de novo AML. P-gp function, the extent of spontaneous apoptosis in vitro and CD95 sensitivity are more predictive for response to induction chemotherapy in adult de novoAML than the constitutive expression levels of the apoptosis-related molecules CD95, Bcl-2 and Bax.

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