Cotreatment with STI-571 enhances tumor necrosis factor alpha-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL or apo-2L)-induced apoptosis of Bcr-Abl-positive human acute leukemia cells

R Nimmanapalli, M Porosnicu, D Nguyen, E Worthington, E O'Bryan, C Perkins, K Bhalla
Clinical Cancer Research 2001, 7 (2): 350-7
Bcr-Abl tyrosine kinase inhibitor STI-571 induces differentiation and apoptosis of HL-60/Bcr-Abl (with ectopic expression of p190 Bcr-Abl) and K562 (with endogenous expression of p210 Bcr-Abl) cells (Blood, 96: 2246-2253, 2000). Cotreatment with STI-571 partially overcomes the resistance to antileukemic drug-induced apoptosis of HL-60/Bcr-Abl and K562 cells. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (Apo-2L/TRAIL), after binding with its signaling death receptors (DR4 and DR5), triggers the intrinsic "mitochondrial" pathway of apoptosis more efficiently in the cancer than do normal cells. In the present studies, we compared the apoptotic effects of Apo-2L/TRAIL, with or without cotreatment with STI-571, in HL-60/neo, HL-60/Bcr-Abl, and K562 cells. As compared with HL-60/neo, HL-60/Bcr-Abl and K562 cells are relatively resistant to Apo-2L/TRAIL-induced apoptosis. In HL-60/Bcr-Abl and K562 versus HL-60/neo cells, Apo-2L/TRAIL caused less cytosolic accumulation of cytochrome c and the processing of caspase-9 and -3. This was also associated with decreased processing of caspase-8, c-FLIP(L) and Bid. Reduced effects of Apo-2L/TRAIL in Bcr-Abl-positive leukemic cells were not attributable to diminished expression of DR4 and DR5, or higher expressions of the decoy receptors DcR1 and -2 or c-FLIP(L). Cotreatment with STI-571 significantly enhanced Apo-2L/TRAIL-induced apoptosis (P < 0.01) as well as increased the processing of caspase-9 and -3 and XIAP, without affecting the levels of DR4, DR5, decoy receptors, or c-FLIP(L). Cotreatment with STI-571 did not enhance Apo-2L/TRAIL-induced apoptosis of HL-60/neo cells. These studies suggest that a combined treatment with STI-571 may be an effective strategy to selectively sensitize Bcr-Abl-positive leukemic blasts to Apo-2L/TRAIL-induced apoptosis.

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