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Leukemia. 2008 Jan;22(1):147-60. Epub 2007 Oct 11.

Proapoptotic activity and chemosensitizing effect of the novel Akt inhibitor perifosine in acute myelogenous leukemia cells.

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Dipartimento di Scienze Anatomiche Umane e Fisiopatologia dell'Apparato Locomotore, Università di Bologna, Bologna, Italy.


The serine/threonine kinase Akt, a downstream effector of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), is known to play an important role in antiapoptotic signaling and has been implicated in the aggressiveness of a number of different human cancers including acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). We have investigated the therapeutic potential of the novel Akt inhibitor, perifosine, on human AML cells. Perifosine is a synthetic alkylphospholipid, a new class of antitumor agents, which target plasma membrane and inhibit signal transduction networks. Perifosine was tested on THP-1 and MV 4-11 cell lines, as well as primary leukemia cells. Perifosine treatment induced cell death by apoptosis in AML cell lines. Perifosine caused Akt and ERK 1/2 dephosphorylation as well as caspase activation. In THP-1 cells, the proapoptotic effect of perifosine was partly dependent on the Fas/FasL system and c-jun-N-kinase activation. In MV 4-11 cells, perifosine downregulated phosphorylated Akt, but not phosphorylated FLT3. Moreover, perifosine reduced the clonogenic activity of AML, but not normal, CD34(+) cells, and markedly increased blast cell sensitivity to etoposide. Our findings indicate that perifosine, either alone or in combination with existing drugs, might be a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of those AML cases characterized by upregulation of the PI3K-Akt survival pathway.

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