Arsenic trioxide induces apoptosis in neuroblastoma cell lines through the activation of caspase 3 in vitro

FEBS Lett. 1999 Jul 16;455(1-2):59-62. doi: 10.1016/s0014-5793(99)00841-8.


Arsenic trioxide (As2O3) induces clinical remission in acute promyelocytic leukemia, even in all-trans retinoic acid-refractory cases, with minimal toxicity at low (1-2 microM) concentration. We exposed various neuroblastoma cell lines to As2O3 at a concentration of 2 microM: as a result, seven of 10 neuroblastoma cell lines underwent apoptosis characterized by morphological changes and nucleosomal DNA fragmentation. As2O3-induced apoptosis in neuroblastoma cells was shown to occur through the activation of caspase 3, as judged from Western blot analysis and apoptosis inhibition assay. It seemed that the sensitivity of neuroblastoma cells to As2O3 was inversely proportional to their intracellular level of reduced glutathione. Taken together these results indicate that As2O3 would be a candidate as a therapeutic agent for treatment of neuroblastoma, which is a solid tumor, not only by systemic therapy but also by local therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Arsenic Trioxide
  • Arsenicals / pharmacology*
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspases / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neuroblastoma / enzymology
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology*
  • Oxides / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Arsenicals
  • Oxides
  • CASP3 protein, human
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspases
  • Glutathione
  • Arsenic Trioxide