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Apoptosis. 2010 Feb;15(2):219-29. doi: 10.1007/s10495-009-0424-9.

Aspirin induces apoptosis in human leukemia cells independently of NF-kappaB and MAPKs through alteration of the Mcl-1/Noxa balance.

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Unitat de Bioquímica, Departament de Ciències Fisiològiques II, IDIBELL-Universitat de Barcelona, Campus de Bellvitge, C/Feixa Llarga s/n, Pavelló de Govern, 4a planta, 08907 L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain.


Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs induce apoptosis in most cell types. In this study we examined the mechanism of aspirin-induced apoptosis in human leukemia cells. We analyzed the role of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) and mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) pathways. Furthermore, we studied the changes induced by aspirin in some genes involved in the control of apoptosis at mRNA level, by performing reverse transcriptase multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (RT-MLPA), and at protein level by Western blot. Our results show that aspirin induced apoptosis in leukemia Jurkat T cells independently of NF-kappaB. Although aspirin induced p38 MAPK and c-Jun N-terminal kinase activation, selective inhibitors of these kinases did not inhibit aspirin-induced apoptosis. We studied the regulation of Bcl-2 family members in aspirin-induced apoptosis. Aspirin increased the mRNA levels of some pro-apoptotic members, such as BIM, NOXA, BMF or PUMA, but their protein levels did not change. In contrast, aspirin decreased the protein levels of Mcl-1. Interestingly, in the presence of aspirin the protein levels of Noxa remained high. This alteration of the Mcl-1/Noxa balance was also found in other leukemia cell lines and primary chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells (CLL). Furthermore, in CLL cells aspirin induced an increase in the protein levels of Noxa. Knockdown of Noxa or Puma significantly attenuated aspirin-induced apoptosis. These results indicate that aspirin induces apoptosis through alteration of the Mcl-1/ Noxa balance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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