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Leuk Res. 2008 Feb;32(2):315-22. Epub 2007 Jun 11.

All-trans retinoic acid induces different immunophenotypic changes on human HL60 and NB4 myeloid leukaemias.

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School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.


All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) is used to treat patients with acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL), inducing APL cells to differentiate into abnormal neutrophils. To investigate the possible relationship between the chromosome translocation t(15;17) found in APL and ATRA treatment, the human myeloid leukaemia cell lines HL60 and NB4, that are PML-RARalpha negative and positive, respectively, were treated with ATRA and immunophenotyped using a CD antibody microarray. For HL60 cells, ATRA induced major increases in descending order of CD38, CD11b, CD45RO, CD11c, CD54 and CD36 with repression of CD117 and CD44. For NB4 cells, ATRA induced major increases in descending order of CD11c, CD54, CD11a, CD11b, CD53, CD65, CD138, CD66c and T-cell receptor alpha/beta (TCRalpha/beta), with repression of CD38 and CD9. The induction of a number of these CD antigens is consistent with the known differentiation of these leukaemias to abnormal neutrophils. Approximately half of the antigens up-regulated by ATRA on NB4 cells were adhesion molecules, including CD11a, CD11b, CD11c, CD54, CD66c and CD138, consistent with the increased adhesiveness of leukaemia cells observed for APL patients treated with ATRA. On HL60 cells, ATRA induced expression of CD38, CD43 and CD45RO and repressed CD117, while the converse was true on NB4 cells that contain chimeric PML-RARalpha. For NB4 cells, ATRA induced some remarkable increases in CD antigens not seen for HL60: CD14 (16.6-fold), CD32 (27.8), CD53 (20.5), CD65 (139), CD66c (79.7), CD126 (15.1), and CD138 (57.6). The expression of these antigens may be regulated by PML-RARalpha in the presence of ATRA. Such CD antigens could be targets for synergistic treatment of APL with therapeutic antibodies following ATRA treatment.

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