Preferential involvement of both ROS and ceramide in fenretinide-induced apoptosis of HL60 rather than NB4 and U937 cells

Lulu Jiang, Xiaoling Pan, Ying Chen, Kankan Wang, Yanzhi Du, Ji Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Leukemic cells responding to apoptosis-inducing drugs can be varied in terms of the mechanisms of action. Fenretinide, a synthetic retinoid, is worth of study as a promising candidate for apoptosis-based therapy of leukemia. Yet, it remains unclear whether this drug exerts the similar mechanisms on different leukemic cells. Here, we report a comparative analysis of fenretinide-induced apoptosis in three acute myeloid leukemic (AML) cell lines including HL60, NB4 and U937. Through a series of antagonist assays, we revealed similarities and differences of mechanisms involved in these three cell lines. Antioxidant vitamin C completely abrogated fenretinide-induced apoptosis in all cell lines, demonstrating that ROS is an essential and common mediator. However, the apoptotic effects of fenretinide could be blocked by ceramide synthase inhibitor fumonisin B1 only in HL60 rather than the other two. Moreover, fumonisin B1 was unable to inhibit the generation of ROS in fenretinide-treated HL60 cells, indicating that ROS may function as upstream stimulus of ceramide-mediated apoptosis. These comparative results strongly suggest that the apoptotic response induced by fenretinide in HL60 involves both ROS and ceramide, whereas drug-induced apoptosis in NB4 and U937 requires ROS but is independent of ceramide. Differentiated modes of action exerting on AML may guide the use of this apoptosis-inducing drug, and hence advance our knowledge about the nature of cancer-specific responses to this drug.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-8
Number of pages5
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2011

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Apoptosis
  • Ceramides
  • Fenretinide
  • Fumonisins
  • HL-60 Cells
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myelomonocytic, Acute
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • U937 Cells


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