We have recently found that all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) upregulates thrombomodulin (TM) and downregulates tissue factor (TF) expression in acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) M3 cells (NB4) and acute monoblastic leukemia cells (U937) (Koyama et al, Blood 84:3001, 1994). We have further investigated the effects of ATRA on leukemic cells freshly isolated from patients at diagnosis. Increase of TM antigen was documented in all AML cells: M0 (n = 1), M2 (n = 5), M3 (n = 3), M4 (n = 3), M5 (n = 3), and M6 (n = 1). Decrease of TF antigen was observed in 4 M2, 1 M4, and all M3 and M5 patients. However, no TM and TF antigens were detected in all chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells (n = 3) with or without ATRA treatment. Changes of TM and TF antigen levels were associated with those of TM and TF cofactor levels on the cell surface. A stereoisomer of RA, 9-cis RA, is a high-affinity ligand for the RA receptors (RARs) and the retinoid X receptors, although ATRA and another isomer, 13-cis RA, solely bind to RARs. We have also studied the effects of 9-cis RA and 13-cis RA on the expressions of TM and TF in NB4 and U937 cells. A relatively wide range of 9-cis RA concentrations (0.01 to 1 mumol/L) compared with ATRA was optimal for prolongation of normal plasma-based recalcification time (reduction of cell surface TF activity), decrease of TF antigen, and increase of TM antigen on the surface and in the lysates of NB4 and U937 cells. Western blot analysis under nonreducing conditions showed that both ATRA and 9-cis RA markedly induced the prominent band at 75 kD of TM and reduced the band at 45 kD of TF. Northern blot analysis has shown similar changes of mRNA levels, which indicates that RAs regulate TM and TF expression in leukemic cells at transcriptional levels. Anticoagulant effects of ATRA, ie, upregulation of TM expression and downregulation of TF expression, are applied not only to established cell lines of specific subtypes (M3 and M5) but also to more universal AML (most cases of M3 and M5 and a part of the other types of AML) cells freshly isolated from patients. 9-cis RA may be more effective than ATRA as an inducer of differentiation of AML M3 cells and as an anticoagulant agent for patients with certain types of AML as well.

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