[Inhibitive effect of artesunate on human lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma cells]

Sichuan Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban. 2009 Nov;40(6):1038-43.
[Article in Chinese]


Objective: To test the effect of Artesunate (ART) on the proliferation of Raji cells, Jurkat cells and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) primary cells; to determine the synergistic antiproliferation effect between ART and Vincristine (VCR) or Cytarabine(Ara-C) on Raji and Jurkat cells; and to explore the mechanism of ART induced apoptosis of tumor cells in vitro.

Methods: MTT assay was performed to detect the inhibition of proliferation of Raji, Jurkat, and ALL primary cells. The cells were exposed to ART at various concentrations with or without VCR or Ara-C. The morphological changes of Raji and Jurkat cells were observed under light microscopy after Wright-Giemsa dyeing and electron transmission microscopy. The mitochondria transmenbrane potential was measured by Rhodamine 123 staining. Colorimetric method was used to measure the activities of caspase-3 in those tumor cells.

Results: ART inhibited the proliferation of Raji cells, Jurkat cells and ALL primary cells. The cytotoxicity of ART on Raji cells and Jurkat cells at a low concentration increased when combined with VCR or Ara-C. Apoptosis in Raji cells and Jurkat cells appeared after exposure to ART. Raji cells and Jurkat cells exposed to ART showed mitochondria transmembrane potential collapse. ART increased the caspase-3 activities of Raji, Jurkat and ALL primary cells.

Conclusion: ART alone or combined with chemotherapy drugs could inhibit the proliferation of B/T lymphocytic tumor cell lines as well ALL primary cells in vitro, probably through the mechanism of apoptosis, which suggest that ART is likely to be a potential drug in the treatment of leukemia/lymphoma.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Artemisinins / pharmacology*
  • Artesunate
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cytarabine / pharmacology
  • Drug Synergism
  • Humans
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Lymphoma / pathology*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / pathology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Artemisinins
  • Cytarabine
  • Artesunate