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Blood. 2001 May 15;97(10):3197-204.

Targeting of the CD33-calicheamicin immunoconjugate Mylotarg (CMA-676) in acute myeloid leukemia: in vivo and in vitro saturation and internalization by leukemic and normal myeloid cells.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, Erasmus University Rotterdam and University Hospital Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Antibody-targeted chemotherapy is a promising therapy in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In a phase II study of Mylotarg (CMA-676, gemtuzumab ozogamicin), which consists of a CD33 antibody linked to calicheamicin, saturation and internalization by leukemic and normal myeloid cells were analyzed in 122 patients with relapsed AML. Peripheral blood samples were obtained just before and 3 and 6 hours after the start of the first and second Mylotarg treatment cycles. Within 3 to 6 hours after infusion, near complete saturation of CD33 antigenic sites by Mylotarg was reached for AML blasts, monocytes, and granulocytes, whereas Mylotarg did not bind to lymphocytes. Saturation levels prior to the start of the second Mylotarg treatment cycle were significantly increased compared with background levels before the start of the first cycle. This apparently was caused by remaining circulating Mylotarg from the first treatment cycle (approximately 2 weeks earlier). On binding of Mylotarg to the CD33 antigen, Mylotarg was rapidly internalized, as determined by the decrease in maximal surface membrane Mylotarg binding. Internalization of Mylotarg was also demonstrated in myeloid cells in vitro and was confirmed by confocal laser microscopy. In vitro studies using pulse labeling with Mylotarg showed a continuous renewed membrane expression of CD33 antigens, which can significantly increase the internalization process and thereby the intracellular accumulation of the drug. Finally, Mylotarg induced dose-dependent apoptosis in myeloid cells in vitro. These data indicate that Mylotarg is rapidly and specifically targeted to CD33(+) cells, followed by internalization and subsequent induction of cell death.

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