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Oncol Rep. 2018 Aug;40(2):877-886. doi: 10.3892/or.2018.6513. Epub 2018 Jun 20.

Salinomycin induces apoptosis and differentiation in human acute promyelocytic leukemia cells.

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Central Laboratory of Yongchuan Hospital, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 402160, P.R. China.
Key Laboratory of Laboratory Medical Diagnostics, Ministry of Education, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, P.R. China.


At present, acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is the most curable form of acute myeloid leukemia and can be treated using all-trans retinoic acid and arsenic trioxide. However, the current treatment of APL is associated with some issues such as drug toxicity, resistance and relapse. Therefore, other strategies are necessary for APL treatment. In the present study, we investigated the effects of salinomycin (SAL) on APL cell lines NB4 and HL-60 and determined its possible mechanisms. We observed that SAL inhibited cell proliferation, as determined by performing Cell Counting Kit-8 (CCK-8) assay, promoted cell apoptosis, as determined based on morphological changes, and increased Annexin V/propidium iodide (PI)-positive apoptotic cell percentage. Treatment with SAL increased Bax/Bcl-2 and cytochrome c expression and activated caspase-3 and -9, thus leading to poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage and resulting in cell apoptosis. These results revealed that SAL induced cell apoptosis through activation of the intrinsic apoptosis pathway. The present study is the first to show that SAL induced the differentiation of APL cells, as determined based on mature morphological changes, increased NBT-positive cell and CD11b-positive cell percentages and increased CD11b and C/EBPβ levels. Furthermore, SAL decreased the expression of β-catenin and its targets cyclin D1 and C-myc. Results of immunofluorescence analysis revealed that SAL markedly decreased the β-catenin level in both the nucleus and cytoplasm. Combination treatment with SAL and IWR-1, an inhibitor of Wnt signaling, synergistically triggered SAL-induced differentiation of APL cells. These findings demonstrated that SAL effectively inhibited cell proliferation accompanied by induction of apoptosis and promotion of cell differentiation by inhibiting Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Collectively, these data revealed that SAL is a potential drug for treatment of APL.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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