Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Cancer Res. 2000 Apr 1;60(7):1901-7.

Anthracyclines trigger apoptosis of both G0-G1 and cycling peripheral blood lymphocytes and induce massive deletion of mature T and B cells.

Author information

  • 1Laboratory of Immunology, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U503 UCBL, Hospital E. Herriot, Lyon, France.


The anthracyclines daunorubicin and doxorubicin were shown to induce apoptosis of hematopoietic cell lines. Here we report that they induce apoptosis of both nonactivated and phytohemagglutinin-activated human peripheral blood lymphocytes. Apoptosis demonstrated by surface expression of phosphatidylserine and typical nuclear alterations reached a maximum after 48 h of incubation with these agents. In contrast to topoisomerase inhibitors (etoposide and camptothecin) and antimetabolites (methotrexate and 5-fluorouracil) that induced apoptosis of activated cells only, daunorubicin and doxorubicin triggered apoptosis of cells in the G0-G1 phases of the cell cycle. In agreement with in vitro data, a single i.p. injection of daunorubicin or doxorubicin in BALB/c mice induced T- and B-cell depletion in spleen, lymph nodes, and to a lesser extent in the thymus. Soluble Fas-Fc, CD95 antagonistic antibodies, as well as the p55 tumor necrosis factor receptor-immunoglobulin fusion protein, did not inhibit drug-induced apoptosis. The level of reactive oxygen species was significantly increased in the presence of daunorubicin or doxorubicin only in nonactivated lymphocytes. However, antioxidants such as N-acetyl-L-cysteine or glutathione did not prevent apoptosis. Activation of caspase-3 after daunorubicin or doxorubicin treatment of either nonactivated or activated lymphocytes was demonstrated by the cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase, which was, as apoptosis, inhibited by the peptide benzyloxycarbonyl-Val-Ala-Asp-fluoromethylketone. Finally, daunorubicin and doxorubicin induced a rapid production of ceramides. These data indicate that anthracyclines may induce major peripheral T-cell deletion, a property not shared by many cytotoxic agents.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk