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Leukemia. 2007 Aug;21(8):1792-801. Epub 2007 Jun 14.

PS-341 or a combination of arsenic trioxide and interferon-alpha inhibit growth and induce caspase-dependent apoptosis in KSHV/HHV-8-infected primary effusion lymphoma cells.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.


Kaposi's sarcoma (KS)-associated herpes virus (KSHV) is the causative agent of primary effusion lymphoma and of KS. Primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) is an aggressive proliferation of B cells. Conventional chemotherapy has limited benefits in PEL patients, and the prognosis is very poor. We previously reported that treatment of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1)-associated adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma cells either with arsenic trioxide (As) combined to interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) or with the bortezomib (PS-341) proteasome inhibitor induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, partly due to the reversal of the constitutive nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) activation. PEL cells also display an activated NF-kappaB pathway that is necessary for their survival. This prompted us to investigate the effects of PS-341, or of the As/IFN-alpha combination on PEL cells. A dramatic inhibition of cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis was observed in PS-341 and in As/IFN-alpha treated cells. This was associated with the dissipation of the mitochondrial membrane potential, cytosolic release of cytochrome c, caspase activation and was reversed by the z-VAD caspase inhibitor. PS-341 and As/IFN-alpha treatment abrogated NF-kappaB translocation to the nucleus and decreased the levels of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-X(L). Altogether, these results provide a rational basis for a future therapeutic use of PS-341 or combined As and IFN-alpha in PEL patients.

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