Discovery of a novel Nrf2 inhibitor that induces apoptosis of human acute myeloid leukemia cells.

PMID 28032588


Nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is persistently activated in many human tumors including acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Therefore, inhibition of Nrf2 activity may be a promising target in leukemia therapy. Here, we used an antioxidant response element-luciferase reporter system to identify a novel pyrazolyl hydroxamic acid derivative, 1-(4-(tert-Butyl)benzyl)-3-(4-chlorophenyl)-N-hydroxy-1H pyrazole-5-carboxamide (4f), that inhibited Nrf2 activity. 4f had a profound growth-inhibitory effect on three AML cell lines, THP-1, HL-60 and U937, and a similar anti-growth effect in a chick embryo model. Moreover, flow cytometry of AML cells revealed increased apoptosis with 4f (10 μM) treatment for 48 h. The protein levels of cleaved caspase-3 and cleaved poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase were enhanced in all three AML cell types. Furthermore, Nrf2 protein level was downregulated by 4f. Upregulation of Nrf2 by tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) or Nrf2 overexpression could ameliorate 4f-induced growth inhibition and apoptosis. Treatment with 4f reduced both B-cell lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2) expression and Bcl-2/Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax) ratio, which indicated that 4f induced apoptosis, at least in part, via mitochondrial-dependent signaling. Therefore, as an Nrf2 inhibitor, the pyrazolyl hydroxamic acid derivative 4f may be a promising agent in AML therapy.

Related Materials