Abstract

Abstract 3305

The differentiating agent ATRA has been used successfully in the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). By comparison, non-APL AML has not shown similar sensitivity to ATRA induced differentiation. Recent data has suggested that a subset of de novo AML patients with nucleophosmin (NPM1) mutations may benefit from addition of ATRA to conventional therapy. The NPM1 gene has several functions affecting cell cycle proliferation including regulation of ribosome biogenesis and centrosome duplication and it acts as a histone chaperone. Mutation of the NPM1 gene leads to differentiation arrest contributing to AML pathogenesis. We hypothesized that leukemia cells with NPM1 mutations could be induced to undergo differentiation. We tested this hypothesis with the NPM1 mutant AML cell line OCI-AML3 and compared the results to identical assays using the AML cell line HL-60 which has been previously well documented to differentiate in response to ATRA therapy. OCI-AML3 and HL-60 cell lines were treated for 5 days with control media and four ATRA doses including 0.2 μM, 1 μM, 5 μM, and 25 μM. Cell viability was assessed by flow cytometry. Compared to the control condition, OCI-AML3 cells treated with the lowest dose of ATRA (0.2 μM) had a live cell count 21.6% of the control. HL-60 cells treated at even the highest ATRA dose (25 uM) had a live cell count 79.3% of the control. Due to the sensitivity of OCI-AML3 cells to the toxic effects of ATRA, the experiment was repeated with lower doses of ATRA including 0.001 μM, 0.01 μM and 0.1 μM. At the lowest dose of ATRA (0.001 μM), OCI-AML3 cells demonstrated a cell viability of 49% with further decrease to 26% at 0.1 μM dose of ATRA. At similar ATRA doses, cell viability for HL-60 cells was 91% and 85%, respectively (see table 1).

Table 1:

Cell viability as a percent of control cells after 5 days of treatment at three different doses of ATRA in OCI-AML3 and HL-60 cell lines.

Cell Line:ATRA 0.001 μMATRA 0.01 μMATRA 0.1 μM
OCI-AML3 49% 33% 26% 
HL-60 91% 91% 85% 
Cell Line:ATRA 0.001 μMATRA 0.01 μMATRA 0.1 μM
OCI-AML3 49% 33% 26% 
HL-60 91% 91% 85% 

We subsequently determined the time course of changes in cell growth and the extent of differentiation at each point was determined by morphologic assessment. Both cell lines were treated with ATRA at doses of 0.001 μM, 0.01 μM, 0.1 μM, and 1 μM for a total of 4 days. Each day viable cell number was determined. In contrast to the HL-60 cells which had continued growth in lower ATRA doses, OCI-AML3 cells demonstrated exquisite sensitivity to growth arrest at the lowest doses of ATRA. Cell morphology was assessed daily with modified Wright-Giemsa staining of cells. Cells were examined for signs of myeloid differentiation including decrease in nuclear to cytoplasmic (N/C) ratio, nuclear segmentation, and cytoplasmic granules and vacuoles. At the lowest dose of ATRA (0.001 μM), after 4 days of exposure, significant number of OCI-AML3 cells demonstrated morphologic evidence of differentiation. At this ATRA dose and exposure interval, HL-60 cells showed no evidence of differentiation. At an ATRA dose of 1 μM (considered a standard dose used for differentiation of HL-60 cells), the OCI-AML3 cells showed differentiation changes as early as day 2 with nuclear segmentation and decreased N/C ratio while HL-60 cells did not show any change at this time point. After 4 days of ATRA exposure, most OCI-AML3 cells showed segmented nuclei and vacuolated cytoplasm, whereas HL-60 cells showed less distinct signs of differentiation with some cytoplasm granules and cup shaped nuclei. This data suggests that leukemic cells with NPM mutations may be susceptible to the pro-differentiating properties of ATRA. Further substantiation of this data with primary human specimens may ultimately provide the rationale for a novel therapeutic option using ATRA-based differentiation therapy for subsets of non-APL AML.

Disclosures:

No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes

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Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

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