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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Triptolide sensitizes AML cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis via decrease of XIAP and p53-mediated increase of DR5.

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells are relatively resistant to tumor necrosis factor alpha-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). We previously reported that triptolide, a potent anticancer agent from a Chinese herb, decreases XIAP in leukemic cells. We evaluated the combination of triptolide and TRAIL and found synergistic promotion of apoptosis in AML cells. XIAP-overexpressing U937 cells (U937XIAP) were more resistant to TRAIL than U937neo cells, and inhibition of XIAP with the small-molecule inhibitor 1396-11 enhanced TRAIL-induced apoptosis, implying XIAP as a resistance factor in AML. Furthermore, triptolide increased DR5 levels in OCI-AML3, while the DR5 increase was blunted in p53-knockdown OCI-AML3 and p53-mutated U937 cells, confirming a role for p53 in the regulation of DR5. In support of this finding, disruption of MDM2-p53 binding with subsequent increase in p53 levels by nutlin3a increased DR5 levels and sensitized OCI-AML3 cells to TRAIL. The combination of 1396-11 plus nutlin3a plus TRAIL was more effective than either the 1396-11 and TRAIL or nutlin3a and TRAIL combinations in OCI-AML3 cells, further supporting the role of triptolide as a sensitizer to TRAIL-induced apoptosis in part by independent modulation of XIAP expression and p53 signaling. Thus, the combination of triptolide and TRAIL may provide a novel strategy for treating AML by overcoming critical mechanisms of apoptosis resistance.[1]


  1. Triptolide sensitizes AML cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis via decrease of XIAP and p53-mediated increase of DR5. Carter, B.Z., Mak, D.H., Schober, W.D., Dietrich, M.F., Pinilla, C., Vassilev, L.T., Reed, J.C., Andreeff, M. Blood (2008) [Pubmed]
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