Prodigiosin induces apoptosis of B and T cells from B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Leukemia. 2003 Apr;17(4):746-50. doi: 10.1038/sj.leu.2402860.


We have previously reported that prodigiosin (2-methyl-3-pentyl-6-methoxyprodigiosene) induces apoptosis in human hematopoietic cancer cell lines with no marked toxicity in nonmalignant cell lines. In this study, we demonstrate that prodigiosin induces apoptosis of B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) cells (n=32 patients). The dose-response for the cytotoxic effect of prodigiosin was analyzed in cells from 12 patients showing an IC(50) of 116+/-25 nM. Prodigiosin induced apoptosis of B-CLL cells through caspase activation. We also analyzed the cytotoxic effect of prodigiosin in T cells from B-CLL samples and no differences were observed with respect to leukemia cells. This is the first report showing that prodigiosin induces apoptosis in human primary cancer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiporters / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • B-Lymphocytes / chemistry
  • B-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • B-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Ion Transport / drug effects
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / metabolism
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / analysis
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / chemistry
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology
  • Prodigiosin / pharmacology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / chemistry
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / analysis


  • Antiporters
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • hydrogen-chloride symporter
  • Caspases
  • Prodigiosin