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Blood. 2005 Mar 15;105(6):2519-26. Epub 2004 Nov 30.

Dexamethasone resistance in B-cell precursor childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia occurs downstream of ligand-induced nuclear translocation of the glucocorticoid receptor.

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  • 1Children's Cancer Institute Australia for Medical Research, PO Box 81, High Street, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia.


Glucocorticoids are among the most effective agents used in the treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and patient response to treatment is an important determinant of long-term outcome. Despite its clinical significance, the molecular basis of glucocorticoid resistance in lymphoid malignancies is still poorly understood. We have recently developed a highly clinically relevant experimental model of childhood ALL, in which primary childhood ALL biopsies were established as xenografts in nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficient (NOD/SCID) mice. The in vivo and in vitro responses of a panel of these xenografts to the glucocorticoid, dexamethasone, reflected the outcome of the patients from whom they were derived. In this report we show that glucocorticoid resistance in B-cell precursor (BCP) ALL xenografts was not due to down-regulation of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) nor to defective ligand binding of the GR. Moreover, dexamethasone-induced GR translocation from the cytoplasm to the nucleus was comparable in all xenografts. However, glucocorticoid resistance was associated with profoundly attenuated induction of the BH3-only proapoptotic protein, Bim, when xenograft cells were exposed to dexamethasone. These results show that dexamethasone resistance in BCP ALL xenografts occurs downstream of ligand-induced nuclear translocation of the GR, but upstream of Bim induction.

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