Meisoindigo, a derivative of Indigo naturalis, has been used in China for chronic myeloid leukemia. In vitro cell line studies have shown that this agent might induce apoptosis and myeloid differentiation of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In this study, we explored its mechanisms and potential in AML. NB4, HL-60, and U937 cells and primary AML cells were used to examine its effects and the NOD/SCID animal model was used to evaluate its invivo activity. Meisoindigo inhibited the growth of leukemic cells by inducing marked apoptosis and moderate cell-cycle arrest at the G0/G1 phase. It down-regulated anti-apoptotic Bcl-2, and up-regulated pro-apoptotic Bak and Bax and cell-cycle related proteins, p21and p27. Furthermore, it induced myeloid differentiation, as demonstrated by morphologic changes, up-regulation of CD11b, and increased nitroblue tetrazolium reduction activity in all cell lines tested. In addition, meisoindigo down-regulated the expression of human telomerase reverse transcriptase and enhanced the cytotoxicity of conventional chemotherapeutic agents, cytarabine and idarubicin. As with the results from cell lines, meisoindigo also induced apoptosis, up-regulated p21 and p27, and down-regulated Bcl-2 in primary AML cells. The invivo anti-leukemic activity of meisoindigo was also demonstrated by decreased spleen size in a dose-dependent manner. Taking these results together, meisoindigo is a potential agent for AML.
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