The Bcl-2 family of proteins is critical to the life and death of malignant B-lymphocytes. Interfering with their activity using small-molecule inhibitors (SMI) is being explored as a new therapeutic strategy for treating B-cell tumors. We evaluated the efficacy of TW-37, a non-peptidic SMI of Bcl-2 against a range spectrum of human B-cell lines, fresh patient samples and animal xenograft models. Multiple cytochemical and molecular approaches such as acridine orange/ethidium bromide assay for apoptosis, co-immunoprecipitation of complexes and western blot analysis, caspase luminescent activity assay and apoptotic DNA fragmentation assay were used to demonstrate the effect of TW-37 on different B-cell lines, patient derived samples, as well as in animal xenograft models. Nanomolar concentrations of TW-37 were able to induce apoptosis in both fresh samples and established cell lines with IC50 in most cases of 165–320 nM. Apoptosis was independent of proliferative status or pathological classification of B-cell tumor. TW-37 was able to block Bim-Bcl-XL and Bim-Mcl-1 heterodimerization and induced apoptosis via activation of caspases -9, -3, PARP and DNA fragmentation. TW-37 administered to tumor-bearing SCID mice led to significant tumor growth inhibition (T/C), tumor growth delay (T-C) and Log10kill, when used at its maximum tolerated dose (40 mg/kg × 3 days) via tail vein. TW-37 failed to induce changes in the Bcl-2 proteins levels suggesting that assessment of baseline Bcl-2 family proteins can be used to predict response to the drug. These findings indicate activity of TW-37 across the spectrum of human B-cell tumors and support the concept of targeting the Bcl-2 system as a therapeutic strategy regardless of the stage of B-cell differentiation.
Al-Katib et al. Journal of Hematology and Oncology 2009, 2:8