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Invest New Drugs. 2012 Apr;30(2):529-40. doi: 10.1007/s10637-010-9594-0. Epub 2010 Dec 1.

The NK-1 receptor is expressed in human leukemia and is involved in the antitumor action of aprepitant and other NK-1 receptor antagonists on acute lymphoblastic leukemia cell lines.

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Research Laboratory on Neuropeptides, Virgen del Rocío University Hospital, Sevilla, Spain.


Substance P and neurokinin-1 (NK-1) receptor antagonists respectively induce cell proliferation and cell inhibition in human cancer cell lines. In acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), substance P is expressed in human blast cells. However, the possible presence of NK-1 receptors in human ALL and the issue of whether the antitumor action of NK-1 receptor antagonists is exerted or not on human ALL (T-ALL BE-13 and B-ALL SD-1 cell lines) remain unknown. An immunoblot analysis was performed and an in vitro study of the cytotoxicity of three NK-1 receptor antagonists (L-733,060, L-732,138, aprepitant) was carried out on both cell lines. NK-1 receptors were found in those cell lines, and both expressed mRNA for this receptor. Using a knockdown method, we demonstrate that NK-1 receptors are involved in the viability of tumor cells. TAC1R cDNA was detected in the ALL cell lines by real-time quantitative RT-PCR. We also observed that the three NK-1 receptor antagonists elicited the inhibition of ALL cell growth; that the specific antitumor action of the NK-1 receptor antagonists occurs through the NK-1 receptor, and that ALL cell death is due to apoptosis. These findings suggest that NK-1 receptor antagonists could be considered as new antitumor drugs for the treatment of human ALL.

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