Send to

Choose Destination
Leukemia. 2000 Sep;14(9):1685-94.

Mechanisms involved in the pro- and anti-apoptotic role of NO in human leukemia.

Author information

U365 INSERM, Institut Curie, Paris, France.


Nitric oxide (NO) exerts contrasting effects on apoptosis, depending on its concentration, flux and cell type. In some situations, NO activates the transduction pathways leading to apoptosis, whereas in other cases NO protects cells against spontaneous or induced apoptosis. The redox state of the cells appears to be a crucial parameter for the determination of the ultimate action of NO on cell multiplication and survival. Apoptosis is mostly associated with the delivery of NO by chemical donors and with myelomonocytic cells, whereas antiapoptotic effects seem to be related to the endogenous production of NO by NO synthases and is observed more frequently in cells of the B lymphocyte lineage. Pro-apoptotic effects are often observed when NO reacts with superoxide to produce the highly toxic peroxynitrite. Through the induction of damages to DNA, NO stimulates the expression of enzymes and transcription factors involved in DNA repair and modulation of apoptosis, such as the tumor suppressor p53. The latter molecule transactivates the expression of pro-apoptotic genes, such as bax, and that of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21, whereas it down-regulates the expression of the anti-apoptotic protein bcl-2. On the other hand, NO inactivates caspases through oxidation and S-nitrosylation of the active cystein, providing an efficient means to block apoptosis. Other protective effects of NO on apoptosis rely on the stimulation of cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG), modulation of the members of the bcl-2/bax family that control the mitochondrial pore transition permeability, induction of the heat shock protein HSP 70 and interaction with the ceramide pathway. A defect in the apoptotic process contributes to the accumulation of tumoral cells in leukemia, notably in B-CLL. A better knowledge of the targets of NO would provide efficient means to control cell apoptosis, and hence would possibly lead to the development of new therapeutic approaches for diseases where an alteration of apoptosis is involved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center