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Int J Oncol. 2007 Feb;30(2):313-8.

Arsenic trioxide induces apoptosis via the mitochondrial pathway by upregulating the expression of Bax and Bim in human B cells.

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Cellular and Molecular Immunology Laboratory, Division of Basic and Clinical Immunology, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA.


Arsenic trioxide (As2O3) has been approved for the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APML) and it is a promising candidate for the treatment of patients with lymphoproliferative disorders, such as relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes. The effects of As2O3 on B cells, specifically which do not express Bcl-2, have not been studied. In this study, we have demonstrated that As2O3, at clinically achievable therapeutic concentrations, induces apoptosis in Bcl-2 negative human B cell line Ramos. As2O3-induced apoptosis is associated with reduced mitochondrial transmembrane potential (delta psi), enhanced generation of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), release of cytochrome c and apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) from mitochondria into cytoplasm, activation of caspases, and upregulation of Bax and Bim expression. Exogenous glutathione (GSH) reverses the As2O3-induced apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. Altogether, these data indicate that As2O3 induces apoptosis in B cells, regardless of Bcl-2 expression, via the mitochondrial pathway by enhancing oxidative stress.

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