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Leuk Lymphoma. 2000 May;37(5-6):649-55.

Arsenic trioxide and the growth of human T-cell leukemia virus type I infected T-cell lines.

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2nd Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Kagoshima University, Kagoshima, Japan.


A novel therapeutic potential for acute promyelocytic leukemia using arsenic trioxide (As(2) O(3) ) has been reported. Recent in vitro studies demonstrated that As(2) O(3) effectively inhibits the growth of some cell lines derived from patients with malignant lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and multiple myeloma. Adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) is an aggressive neoplasm of mature T-cell origin caused by human T-cell leukemia virus type-I (HTLV-I) the prognosis of which still remains very poor. A possible role of As(2) O(3) for the treatment of ATL is demonstrated from evidence that As(2) O(3) significantly inhibits the growth of HTLV-I infected T-cell lines and induces apoptosis in fresh ATL cells at clinically achievable concentration of the agent. The growth inhibition of As(2) O(3) treated HTLV-I infected T-cell lines was induced by both apoptosis and G(1) phase accumulation. Cleaved bcl-2 protein and an enhanced expression of bak protein in the cells were coincidentally observed during As(2) O(3) treatment. A broad spectrum caspase inhibitor, z-Val-Ala-DL-Asp-fluoromethylketone inhibited the apoptosis induced by As(2) O(3). Increased expression of p53, Cip1/p21 and Kip1/p27, and dephosphorylation of retinoblastoma protein (pRb) were detected in the As(2) O(3) treated cells. In conclusion, As(2) O(3) might become a new therapeutic tool in the treatment of ATL as As(2) O(3) induces apoptosis by destruction of the bcl-2 protein and enhancement of the bak protein production proceeding to activate caspases, and also induces G(1) phase accumulation by enhancement of p53, Cip1/p21, Kip1/p27 and dephosphorylation of pRb to HTLV-I infected T-cell lines.

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