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Cancer Res. 2005 Aug 15;65(16):7478-84.

FTY720 induces apoptosis in multiple myeloma cells and overcomes drug resistance.

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  • 1Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center, Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The novel immunomodulator FTY720 down-modulates sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 on lymphocytes at low nanomolar concentrations, thereby inhibiting sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1-dependent egress of lymphocytes from lymph nodes into efferent lymphatics and blood. At high micromolar concentration, FTY720 has been shown to induce growth inhibition and/or apoptosis in human cancer cells in vitro. In this study, we investigated the biological effects of FTY720 on multiple myeloma cells. We found that FTY720 induces potent cytotoxicity against drug-sensitive and drug-resistant multiple myeloma cell lines as well as freshly isolated tumor cells from multiple myeloma patients who do not respond to conventional agents. FTY720 triggers activation of caspase-8, -9, and -3, followed by poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage. Interestingly, FTY720 induces alterations in mitochondrial membrane potential (DeltaPsim) and Bax cleavage, followed by translocation of cytochrome c and Smac/Diablo from mitochondria to the cytosol. In combination treatment studies, both dexamethasone and anti-Fas antibodies augment anti-multiple myeloma activity induced by FTY720. Neither interleukin-6 nor insulin-like growth factor-I, which both induce multiple myeloma cell growth and abrogate dexamethasone-induced apoptosis, protect against FTY720-induced growth inhibition. Importantly, growth of multiple myeloma cells adherent to bone marrow stromal cells is also significantly inhibited by FTY720. Finally, it down-regulates interleukin-6-induced phosphorylation of Akt, signal transducers and activators of transcription 3, and p42/44 mitogen-activated protein kinase; insulin-like growth factor-I-triggered Akt phosphorylation; and tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced IkappaBalpha and nuclear factor-kappaB p65 phosphorylation. These results suggest that FTY720 overcomes drug resistance in multiple myeloma cells and provide the rationale for its clinical evaluation to improve patient outcome in multiple myeloma.

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