Biochemical and biophysical research communications

Arsenic trioxide synergistically potentiates the cytotoxic effect of fludarabine in chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells by further inactivating the Akt and ERK signaling pathways.

PMID 25869069


CLL remains an incurable disease, making it crucial to continue searching for new therapies efficient in all CLL cases. We have studied the effect of combining arsenic trioxide (ATO) with fludarabine, a frontline drug in CLL. We have found a synergistic interaction between 1xa0μM ATO and 5xa0μM fludarabine that significantly enhanced the cytotoxic effect of the individual drugs. Importantly, ATO sensitized fludarabine-resistant cells to the action of this drug. The mechanism behind this effect included the downregulation of phospho-Akt, phospho-ERK, and the Mcl-1/Bim and Bcl-2/Bax ratios. The combination of ATO and fludarabine partially overcame the survival effect induced by co-culturing CLL cells with stromal cells. Therefore, low concentrations of ATO combined with fludarabine may be an efficient therapeutic strategy in CLL patients.