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Induction of apoptosis and bcl-2 expression in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in children

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bcl-2 expression is associated with the expression of the multidrug resistance molecule (p-gp) and the resistance of leukaemia cells to the induction of apoptosis. The activity of p-gp is the main mechanism of resistance of leukaemia cells to chemotherapy. This study assessed the induction of apoptosis of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) blastic cells following in vitro treatment withdexamethasone (DXM),vincristine(VCR),and tumour necrosis factor (TNF) in relation to the expression of bcl-2 and p-gp. Common ALL (cALL; n = 24 patients), common ALL with co-expression of myeloid antigens (cALL + My; n = 9), ALL-T (n = 9), and NHL [n = 6 (T type, n = 2; B type, n = 4)] were included. The expression of bcl-2 and p-gp and apoptosis were assayed by flow cytometry. Spontaneous apoptosis was low (<5%) in cALL and ALL-T and higher (>8%) in NHL and cALL + My. A high frequency of bcl-2 expression was noted in cALL and cALL + My. A high frequency of p-gp expression was observed in cALL + My, ALL-T, and NHL. There was a reverse association between bcl-2 expression and spontaneous apoptosis. DXM-induced apoptosis was observed in 52.63%, TNF-induced in 42.85%, VCR-induced in 36.36%, and GM-CSF-induced in 33.3% of leukaemia and lymphoma cases. DXM and GM-CSFdriven apoptosis was reversibly associated with bcl-2-expression (bcl-2-dependent mechanism). VCR and TNF-driven apoptosis was not associated with bcl-2 expression, suggesting a different, bcl-2- independent, mechanism(s) of its induction. The in vitro induction of apoptosis was not associated with expression of p-gp.


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