Darinaparsin induces a unique cellular response and is active in an arsenic trioxide-resistant myeloma cell line

Mol Cancer Ther. 2009 May;8(5):1197-206. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-08-1072. Epub 2009 May 5.


Here, we report on the organic arsenical darinaparsin (ZIO-101, S-dimethylarsino-glutathione) and its anti-myeloma activity compared with inorganic arsenic trioxide. Darinaparsin induced apoptosis in multiple myeloma cell lines in a dose-dependent manner, and the addition of N-acetylcysteine, which increases intracellular glutathione (GSH), blocked cytotoxicity of both darinaparsin and arsenic trioxide. In contrast to arsenic trioxide, intracellular GSH does not appear to be important for darinaparsin metabolism, as an inhibitor of GSH synthesis, buthionine sulfoximine, had little effect on drug activity. This discrepancy was resolved when we determined the effects of thiols on drug uptake. The addition of exogenous GSH, L-cysteine, or D-cysteine prevented darinaparsin cellular uptake and cell death but had no effect on the uptake or activity of arsenic trioxide, suggesting a difference in the transport mechanism of these two drugs. In addition, gene expression profiling revealed differences in the signaling of protective responses between darinaparsin and arsenic trioxide. Although both arsenicals induced a transient heat shock response, only arsenic trioxide treatment induced transcription of metal response genes and anti-oxidant genes related to the Nrf2-Keap1 pathway. In contrast to the protective responses, both arsenicals induced up-regulation of BH3-only proteins. Moreover, silencing of BH3-only proteins Noxa, Bim, and Bmf protected myeloma cells from darinaparsin-induced cell death. Finally, treatment of an arsenic trioxide-resistant myeloma cell line with darinaparsin resulted in dose-dependent apoptosis, indicating that cross-resistance does not necessarily develop between these two forms of arsenic in multiple myeloma cell lines. These results suggest darinaparsin may be useful as an alternative treatment in arsenic trioxide-resistant hematologic cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Arsenic Trioxide
  • Arsenicals / metabolism
  • Arsenicals / pharmacology*
  • Buthionine Sulfoximine / metabolism
  • Buthionine Sulfoximine / pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cysteine / metabolism
  • Cysteine / pharmacology
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Glutathione / analogs & derivatives*
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Multiple Myeloma / metabolism*
  • Oxides / metabolism
  • Oxides / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Arsenicals
  • Oxides
  • Buthionine Sulfoximine
  • darinaparsin
  • Glutathione
  • Cysteine
  • Arsenic Trioxide