Dihydroartemisinin Enhances the Therapeutic Efficacy of BH3 Mimetic Inhibitor in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Cells via Inhibition of Mcl-1

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Molecular and Medicine Research Center, Arak University of Medical Sciences, Arak, Iran.

2 Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran.

3 Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

4 Department of Molecular Medicine and Biotechnology, Faculty of Medicine, Arak University of Medical Sciences, Arak, Iran.

5 Traditional and Complementary Medicine Research Center, Faculty of Medicine, Arak University of Medical Sciences, Arak, Iran.


Introduction: Up-regulation of the anti-apoptotic proteins such as Mcl-1 is associated with the primary and secondary resistance of tumor cells to ABT-737 Bcl-2 inhibitor. The combined treatment of Bcl-2 inhibitors with Mcl-1 inhibitors has been proposed as an attractive therapeutic strategy to overcome this drug resistance. Here, we investigated the effect of dihydroartemisinin on Mcl-1 expression and sensitization of T-ALL cells to ABT-737. Methods: The cell growth and survival were tested by the cell proliferation and MTT assays, respectively. The mRNA levels of Bcl-2, Mcl-1, Bax and P21 were examined by qRT-PCR. Apoptosis were detected by Hoechst 33342 staining and caspase-3 activity assay. Results: Our data showed that combination treatment with dihydroartemisinin and ABT-737 caused a significant decrease in the IC50 value and synergistically reduced the cell survival compared with dihydroartemisinin or ABT-737 alone. ABT-737 enhanced the Mcl-1 mRNA expression. Dihydroartemisinin also down-regulated the expression of Bcl-2 and Mcl-1 and enhanced the P21 and Bax expression. Moreover, dihydroartemisinin enhanced the apoptosis induced by ABT-737 in MOLT-4 and MOLT-17 cell lines. Conclusion: In conclusion, dihydroartemisinin demonstrates anti-tumor activities in human ALL cells via inhibition of cell survival and growth. Dihydroartemisinin augments the apoptotic effect of ABT-737 by inhibiting the expression of Mcl-1.


Main Subjects

Volume 25, Issue 1
January 2024
Pages 325-332
  • Receive Date: 04 October 2023
  • Revise Date: 22 November 2023
  • Accept Date: 19 January 2024
  • First Publish Date: 19 January 2024