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PLoS One. 2007 Jun 27;2(6):e559.

Triterpenoids display single agent anti-tumor activity in a transgenic mouse model of chronic lymphocytic leukemia and small B cell lymphoma.

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Burnham Institute for Medical Research, La Jolla, California, United States of America.



The synthetic triterpenoid 2-Cyano-3,12-Dioxooleana-1,9-Dien-28-Oic Acid (CDDO) and derivatives display anti-tumor activity against a variety of cultured tumor cell lines and in mouse xenografts. In this report, we have studied the effects of CDDO and its imidazolide derivative (CDDO-Im) on chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), using patients' CLL cells and a mouse model of CLL and small B cell lymphoma (SBL).


CDDO and CDDO-Im efficiently induced apoptosis of malignant human and mouse B-cells ex vivo, although CDDO-Im was over 10-fold more potent than CDDO. Treating mice with CLL/SBL with liposome-formulated CDDO or CDDO-Im resulted in significant reductions of B cells in blood, spleen and lung. CDDO-Im was shown to be more potent than CDDO, while treatment with empty liposomes had no impact on disease. CDDO-Im treatment initially resulted in an increase of circulating B cells, which correlates with a reduction in resident lymphocytes in spleen, and lungs, suggesting that CDDO-Im induces mobilization of tumor cells from lymphoid organs and infiltrated tissues into the circulation. Analysis of blood cells recovered from treated mice also showed that CDDO-Im is a potent inducer of tumor cells death in vivo. Furthermore, CDDO-Im efficiently eradicated mouse CLL/SBL cells but had little effect on the viability of normal B and T cells in vivo.


The presented data demonstrate that triterpenoids CDDO and CDDO-Im reduce leukemia and lymphoma burden in vivo in a transgenic mouse model of CLL/SBL, and support the clinical testing of CDDO-based synthetic triterpenoids in patients with CLL.

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