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Blood. 2005 Oct 1;106(7):2462-71. Epub 2005 Jun 14.

Dual targeting of transformed and untransformed HTLV-1-infected T cells by DHMEQ, a potent and selective inhibitor of NF-kappaB, as a strategy for chemoprevention and therapy of adult T-cell leukemia.

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Department of Hematology, Faculty of Medicine, Kitasato University, Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan.


Human T-cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-1) causes adult T-cell leukemia (ATL), a fatal T-cell leukemia resistant to chemotherapy, after more than 50 years of clinical latency from transmission through breast-feeding. Polyclonal expansion of virus-infected T cells predisposes them to transformation. Constitutive activation of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) in the leukemic cells is essential for their growth and survival. Blocking NF-kappaB has been shown to be a potential strategy to treat ATL. We tested this approach using a novel NF-kappaB inhibitor, dehydroxymethylepoxyquinomicin (DHMEQ), and also examined its application to chemoprevention by selective purging of the HTLV-1-infected cells. DHMEQ inhibited NF-kappaB activation in primary ATL cells and cell lines derived from them and induced apoptotic cell death. NF-kappaB inhibition down-regulated expression of genes involved in antiapoptosis or cell-cycle progression. DHMEQ protected severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice inoculated with HTLV-1-transformed cells from death. In addition, DHMEQ selectively targeted HTLV-1-infected cells in the peripheral blood of virus carriers in vitro, resulting in a decreased number of infected cells. We conclude that NF-kappaB is a potential molecular target for treatment and prevention of ATL. As a potent NF-kappaB inhibitor, DHMEQ is a promising compound allowing the translation of this strategy into clinical medicine.

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