We have studied the effect of N-(4-hydroxyphenyl)retinamide on either malignant human leukaemia cells or normal cells and investigated its mechanism of action. We demonstrate that 4HPR induces reactive oxygen species increase on mitochondria at a target between mitochondrial respiratory chain complex I and II. Such oxidative stress causes cardiolipin peroxidation which in turn allows cytochrome c release to cytosol, caspase-3 activation and therefore apoptotic consumption. Moreover, this apoptotic pathway seems to be bcl-2/bax independent and count only on malignant cells but not normal nor activated lymphocytes.
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