ABL kinase inhibitor, imatinib is highly effective therapy against chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients and eliminates disease progression and transformation. However, imatinib is not curative for most CML patients. Residual CML cells are present in bone marrow microenvironment. Bone marrow microenvironment is a source of soluble factors and regulates the proliferation of leukemia cells. These leukemia cells are contained within a niche in the bone marrow and are often impervious to current treatments, thus maintaining their proliferative activity when the treatment is ceased, suggests that the new therapeutic strategies designed to override stroma-associated drug resistance are required to treat against Philadelphia (Ph)-positive leukemia patients. The hematopoietic cytokine receptor signaling is mediated by tyrosine kinases termed Janus kinases (Jaks) and downstream transcription factors, signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs). Jak-STAT signaling is also activated in CML cells. One of the Jak kinase inhibitor, TG101348 (SAR302503) is an orally available inhibitor of Jak2 and developed for the treatment of patients with myeloproliferative diseases. Therefore, combination therapy using a BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors and a Jak inhibitor, TG101348 may help prevent stroma-associated drug resistance and these approaches may be expected to improve the outcomes of CML patients. In this study, we investigated the ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitor, imatinib and TG101348 efficacy by using the BCR-ABL positive cell lines, K562 and primary CML samples when leukemic cells were protected by the feeder cell lines (HS-5 and S9). 72 hours treatment of imatinib exhibits cell growth inhibition and induced apoptosis against K562 cells in a dose dependent manner. However, the treatment of imatinib exhibits cell growth inhibition partially against K562 cells in the presence of HS-5 conditioned media. We found that the treatment of TG101348 did not exhibit cell growth inhibition against K562 cells directly, but the combination treatment with imatinib and TG101348 abrogated the protective effects of HS-5 conditioned media in K562 cells. We next investigated the intracellular signaling of imatinib and TG101348. Phosphorylation of BCR-ABL, Crk-L was not reduced after TG101348 treatment. However, phosphorylation of BCR-ABL, Crk-L was significantly reduced and increased apoptosis after combination treatment with imatinib and TG101348. We next investigated the efficacy between imatinib and TG101348 by using CD34 positive primary CML samples. The treatment of imatinib exhibits cell growth inhibition partially against CD34 positive CML samples in the presence of feeder cells. Combined treatment of CD34 positive primary samples with imatinib and TG101348 caused significantly more cytotoxicity and induced apoptosis. We also found that mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) was also inhibited by imatinib and TG101348 treatment. We next investigated the intracellular signaling of imatinib and TG101348 by using the CD34 positive primary samples. Phosphorylation of BCR-ABL, Crk-L was significantly reduced and increased apoptosis after treatment with imatinib and TG101348. Moreover, combination of imatinib and TG101348 inhibited the colony growth of Ph-positive primary samples. We also investigated the TG101348 activity against feeder cell. Phosphorylation of STAT5 was reduced by TG101348 in a dose dependent manner. The cytokine production was analyzed by using cytokine array systems. The cytokine production such as granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) from HS-5 was also reduced by TG101348 treatment. Data from this study suggested that administration of the imatinib and Jak inhibitor, TG101348 may be a powerful strategy against stroma-associated drug resistance of Ph-positive cells and enhance cytotoxic effects of imatinib in those residual CML cells.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.