Genistein selectively potentiates arsenic trioxide-induced apoptosis in human leukemia cells via reactive oxygen species generation and activation of reactive oxygen species-inducible protein kinases (p38-MAPK, AMPK).
The observation that genistein may behave as a pro-oxidant agent lead us to examine the capacity of this isoflavone to modulate the toxicity of the oxidation-sensitive anti-leukemic agent arsenic trioxide (ATO), and for comparison other anti-tumor drugs. Co-treatment with genistein increased ATO-provoked apoptosis and activated apoptosis regulatory events (Bcl-X(L) down-regulation, cytochrome c and Omi/HtrA2 release from mitochondria, XIAP decrease and caspase-8/Bid and caspase-3 activation) in U937 promonocytes and other human leukemia cell lines (HL60, THP-1, Jurkat, RPMI-8866), but not in phytohemagglutinin-stimulated non-tumor peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs). Genistein, alone and with ATO, stimulated reactive oxygen species generation, and apoptosis was attenuated by N-acetyl-L-cysteine and butylated hydroxyanisole. Addition of low H(2)O(2) concentrations mimicked the capacity of genistein to increase ATO-provoked apoptosis in leukemia cells, but not in PBLs. By contrast, co-treatment with genistein or H(2)O(2) failed to potentiate the toxicity of DNA-targeting agent cisplatin, the proteasome inhibitor MG-132 and the histone deacetylase inhibitor MS-275. Within the here used time-period (14 hr) genistein, alone or with ATO, did not significantly affect Akt phosphorylation and NF-kappaB binding activity, nor decreased intracellular GSH content. However, it elicited N-acetyl-L-cysteine-inhibitable phosphorylation of p38-MAPK and AMPK, and apoptosis was attenuated by pharmacologic inhibitors against these kinases. The pro-oxidant capacity of genistein might be exploited to improve the efficacy of ATO as anti-leukemic agent, and perhaps the efficacy of other oxidation-based therapeutic approaches.
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