Introduction: Cyclic AMP (cAMP) promotes growth arrest and/or apoptosis of various types of lymphoma, in particular chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). These responses have spurred the interest in developing agents that increase cAMP to treat such malignancies and to identify mechanisms of the responses.
Areas covered: The murine T-lymphoma cell line S49, has provided an important, pioneering model to define mechanisms of cAMP-mediated lymphoid cell death. Studies with S49 cells demonstrated that cAMP, acting via protein kinase A (PKA), is pro-apoptotic through a mitochondria-dependent pathway and identified cAMP/PKA-regulated targets involved in apoptosis. Akin to such findings, cAMP promotes apoptosis via PKA of cells from patients with CLL. Analysis of mediators of cAMP accumulation and cAMP-promoted apoptosis in CLL cells has revealed approaches to increase cAMP and engage its pro-apoptotic action.
Expert opinion: This 'pathway approach' targeted to cAMP has identified GPCR agonists/antagonists, AC activators (e.g., AC7), PDE inhibitors (e.g., PDE7B) and/or activators or inhibitors of downstream mediators (PKA and Epac, respectively), which might be utilized therapeutically in CLL. Therapy directed at such targets may prove to be clinically useful and may also provide a proof-of-principle of the utility of targeting cAMP signaling in other types of cancer.