A mechanism for increased sensitivity of acute myeloid leukemia to mitotoxic drugs
Panina, Svetlana B.; Baran, Natalia; da Costa, Fabio H. Brasil; Konopleva, Marina; Kirienko, Natalia V.
Mitochondria play a central and multifunctional role in the progression of tumorigenesis. Although many recent studies have demonstrated correlations between mitochondrial function and genetic makeup or originating tissue, it remains unclear why some cancers are more susceptible to mitocans (anticancer drugs that target mitochondrial function to mediate part or all of their effect). Moreover, fundamental questions of efficacy and mechanism of action in various tumor types stubbornly remain. Here we demonstrate that cancer type is a significant predictor of tumor response to mitocan treatment, and that acute myeloid leukemias (AML) show an increased sensitivity to these drugs. We determined that AML cells display particular defects in mitochondrial metabolism that underlie their sensitivity to mitocan treatment. Furthermore, we demonstrated that combinatorial treatment with a mitocan (CCCP) and a glycolytic inhibitor (2-deoxyglucose) has substantial synergy in AML cells, including primary cells from patients with AML. Our results show that mitocans, either alone or in combination with a glycolytic inhibitor, display anti-leukemia effects in doses much lower than needed to induce toxicity against normal blood cells, indicating that mitochondria may be an effective and selective therapeutic target.