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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2005 Jan;312(1):339-45. Epub 2004 Oct 6.

Retinoic acid down-regulates aldehyde dehydrogenase and increases cytotoxicity of 4-hydroperoxycyclophosphamide and acetaldehyde.

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University of Florida, College of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, P.O. Box 100277, 1600 SW Archer Road, Room R4-220, Gainesville, FL 32610-0277, USA.


Multiple prior studies have identified aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH) that are capable of oxidizing retinal to retinoic acid. In this study, we test the hypothesis that the accumulation of intracellular retinoic acid may lead to the suppression of ALDH expression and thus increase cytotoxicity to 4-hydroperoxycyclophosphamide (4-HC) in vitro. Mainly A549, but also other lung cancer cell lines, were used in our experiments, with the former having high levels of two ALDH isozymes expressed. Dose-response and time-course experiments were performed by incubating the cells with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) as well as other commercially available retinoids. The results show that incubation of A549 cells with any of the retinoids at pharmacologic doses for > or =48 h results in a significant decrease in ALDH-1A1 and ALDH-3A1 enzyme activity and protein levels but not the corresponding mRNAs. Such a decrease in ALDH activity was seen in all cell lines tested and results in a significant increase in toxicity of 4-HC and acetaldehyde, both of which are substrates for the enzymes. Prior incubation with ATRA also results in increased cytotoxicity, although to a lesser degree, of phenylketophosphamide and melphalan, neither of which is a substrate for ALDHs. These results suggest a post-translational mechanism through which retinoids decrease both ALDH expression, which results in increased cytotoxicity of 4-HC and acetaldehyde, although other previously described effects of these retinoids may contribute to the slight increase in cytotoxicity seen with other chemotherapy agents. These results may have clinical implications in regard to the use of retinoids in lung cancer prevention and treatment.

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