Sulforaphane induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells

PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e51251. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051251. Epub 2012 Dec 12.

Abstract

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common hematological cancer in children. Although risk-adaptive therapy, CNS-directed chemotherapy, and supportive care have improved the survival of ALL patients, disease relapse is still the leading cause of cancer-related death in children. Therefore, new drugs are needed as frontline treatments in high-risk disease and as salvage agents in relapsed ALL. In this study, we report that purified sulforaphane, a natural isothiocyanate found in cruciferous vegetables, has anti-leukemic properties in a broad range of ALL cell lines and primary lymphoblasts from pediatric T-ALL and pre-B ALL patients. The treatment of ALL leukemic cells with sulforaphane resulted in dose-dependent apoptosis and G2/M cell cycle arrest, which was associated with the activation of caspases (3, 8, and 9), inactivation of PARP, p53-independent upregulation of p21(CIP1/WAF1), and inhibition of the Cdc2/Cyclin B1 complex. Interestingly, sulforaphane also inhibited the AKT and mTOR survival pathways in most of the tested cell lines by lowering the levels of both total and phosphorylated proteins. Finally, the administration of sulforaphane to the ALL xenograft models resulted in a reduction of tumor burden, particularly following oral administration, suggesting a potential role as an adjunctive agent to improve the therapeutic response in high-risk ALL patients with activated AKT signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Humans
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / pathology*
  • Thiocyanates / pharmacology*

Substances

  • Isothiocyanates
  • Thiocyanates
  • sulforafan

Grant support

This work was supported by Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research and Alkek Foundation. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.