Tretinoin tocoferil is an alpha-tocopherol ester of all-trans retinoic acid (RA) and safely used in the treatment of skin ulcer. Tretinoin tocoferil inhibited proliferation of human promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells and induced granulocytic differentiation of the cells, but less than RA. alpha-Tocopherol did not affect differentiation of HL-60 cells, but at high concentrations enhanced its nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT)-reducing activity and expression of surface antigen CD11b, which are markers of myelomonocytic differentiation induced by RA. Tretinoin tocoferil increased NBT reduction in HL-60 cells treated with RA. It also enhanced the differentiation of HL-60 cells induced by dimethyl sulfoxide, phorbol-12-myristate 13-acetate or 1alpha,25- dihydroxyvitamin D3 (VD3). In combination with a low concentration of VD3, it induced the NBT-reducing activity of human monoblastic U937 cells very effectively. Moreover, it enhanced the differentiation of human myelomonocytic ML-1, THP-1, P39/TSU, and P31/FUJ cells induced by VD3. In combination with VD3, it synergistically inhibited the proliferation of HL-60, U937, ML-1, THP-1, P39/TSU, and P31/FUJ cells and decreased the effective concentration of VD3 to a 10(-10) mol/L level. Because tretinoin tocoferil was reported to induce neither retinoid-related toxicity nor teratogenicity, the therapeutic advantage of the use of it in treatment of myelomonocytic leukemia is suggested.

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