All-trans retinoic acid can intensify the growth inhibition and differentiation induction effect of rosiglitazone on multiple myeloma cells

Eur J Haematol. 2009 Sep;83(3):191-202. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0609.2009.01277.x. Epub 2009 May 8.


Objective: Activation of PPARgamma by its ligands has shown potential anti-neoplastic effects in solid tumors. In this study, we investigate the effects of rosiglitazone (RGZ) alone as well as in combination with all trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) on human myeloma cell lines and try to address its potential mechanism.

Methods: U266, RPMI-8226 and primary myeloma cells from patients were treated with different concentrations of RGZ in the presence or absence of ATRA and various biological responses were studied by the methods of [3H] thymidine incorporation, MTT, cell cycle analysis, Annexin V-PI staining, Wright-Giemsa staining, CD49e expression assay, light chain protein detection, RT-PCR and caspase-3 activity assay.

Results: We report that exposure to RGZ induced proliferation inhibition and viability reduction in a dose-dependent manner in both U266 and RPMI-8226 cells. A similar exposure to RGZ also induced cell cycle arrest and cell apoptosis of myeloma cells. A combination of RGZ with ATRA enhanced the effects of RGZ and induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis more profoundly in both cell lines. RGZ treated cells displayed morphological characteristics of cell differentiation, and more evident signs of differentiation were observed when combined with ATRA. These changes were confirmed by the detection of CD49e expression and light chain protein secretion. Similar cell apoptosis and differentiation were observed when primary CD138+ myeloma cells were treated with RGZ and ATRA. The mRNA expressions of FLIP, XIAP and survivin were detected in both cell lines and the levels decreased significantly after culture with RGZ. The addition of ATRA in culture medium made these changes more apparently. Caspase-3 activity was increased upon exposure to RGZ in both U266 and RPMI-8226 cells while combination of RGZ and ATRA brought out more effective activation of caspase-3. Similar apoptosis and cell differentiation induced by RGZ and ATRA can also be observed in primary CD138+ cells from myeloma patients.

Conclusion: Concomitant RXRalpha activation by ATRA enhanced the inhibitory effects of RGZ on myeloma cell proliferation, cell cycle, apoptosis and differentiation. Combination of RGZ and ATRA may be a useful therapy for human multiple myeloma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Apoptosis
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Myeloma / drug therapy*
  • Multiple Myeloma / pathology*
  • PPAR gamma / metabolism
  • Rosiglitazone
  • Thiazolidinediones / pharmacology*
  • Tretinoin / pharmacology*


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • PPAR gamma
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Rosiglitazone
  • Tretinoin
  • Caspase 3