Journal of experimental & clinical cancer research : CR

Halofuginone inhibits phosphorylation of SMAD-2 reducing angiogenesis and leukemia burden in an acute promyelocytic leukemia mouse model.

PMID 26099922


Halofuginone (HF) is a low-molecular-weight alkaloid that has been demonstrated to interfere with Metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) and Tumor Growth Factor-β (TGF-β) function and, to present antiangiogenic, antiproliferative and proapoptotic properties in several solid tumor models. Based on the fact that high levels of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) and increased angiogenesis have been described in acute myeloid leukemia and associated with disease progression, we studied the in vivo effects of HF using an Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL) mouse model. NOD/SCID mice were transplanted with leukemic cells from hCG-PML/RARA transgenic mice (TM) and treated with HF 150 μg/kg/day for 21 days. The leukemic infiltration and the percentage of VEGF+ cells were evaluated by morphology and flow cytometry. The effect of HF on the gene expression of several pro- and antiangiogenic factors, phosphorylation of SMAD2 and VEGF secretion was assessed in vitro using NB4 and HUVEC cells. HF treatment resulted in hematological remission with decreased accumulation of immature cell and lower amounts of VEGF in BM of leukemic mice. In vitro, HF modulated gene expression of several pro- and antiangiogenic factors, reduced VEGF secretion and phosphorylation of SMAD2, blocking TGF-β-signaling. Taken together, our results demonstrate that HF inhibits SMAD2 signaling and reduces leukemia growth and angiogenesis.