Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Gen Pharmacol. 1999 Jan;32(1):143-54.

Leukemia cell differentiation: cellular and molecular interactions of retinoids and vitamin D.

Author information

Division of Gastroenterology, Endocrinology, and Metabolism, St. George's Hospital Medical School, London.


1. The conventional approach to treatment of acute myeloid leukemia has been the use of chemotherapy, which although being cytotoxic to malignant clones, is also cytodestructive to normal cells. In addition, some leukemia cells develop resistance to chemotherapy and are therefore difficult to eradicate. 2. Differentiation therapy, whereby immature cells are induced to attain a mature phenotype by differentiation agents, has provided an alternative strategy in the treatment of hyperproliferative disorders. This has been highlighted by the use of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) in the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). 3. Another differentiation agent, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3), directs monocytic maturation of normal and leukemic cells. Cellular studies have revealed that combinations of vitamin D derivatives and retinoids such as ATRA and 9-cis retinoic acid (9-cis RA) exhibit cooperative effects on differentiation in established leukemia cell lines such as HL-60, U937, and NB4. Furthermore, vitamin D compounds, although not able to induce apoptosis when used alone, potentiate apoptosis induced by 9-cis RA in HL-60 cells and differentially regulate the expression of the apoptosis-related gene products bcl-2 and bax. The molecular mechanisms involved in regulating differentiation and apoptosis by these agents are mediated through the interactions of the nuclear receptors for vitamin D (VDR), ATRA (RAR), and 9-cis RA (RXR), which are able to form homo- or heterodimeric complexes and transcriptionally activate or repress target gene expression. 4. There is evidence to suggest that nitric oxide may also play a role in leukemic cell differentiation and that 1,25(OH)2D3 may influence endogenous nitric oxide production either by directly increasing tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) or through a secondary mediator such as the C-type lectin CD23.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center