Imexon-Induced Apoptosis in Multiple Myeloma Tumor Cells is Caspase-8 Dependent

Andrew M. Evens, Sheila Prachand, Bo Shi, Mary Paniaqua, Leo I. Gordon, Ronald B. Gartenhaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Purpose: Imexon is a 2-cyanoaziridine agent that has been shown to inhibit growth of chemotherapy-sensitive myeloma cells through apoptosis with decreased cellular stores of glutathione and increased reactive oxygen species (ROS). We examined the mechanism of imexon cytotoxicity in a diverse panel of dexamethasone and chemotherapy-sensitive and -resistant myeloma cell lines. Experimental Design: We examined cellular cytotoxicity, apoptosis, and changes in redox state in dexamethasone-sensitive (C2E3), dexamethasone-resistant (1-310 and 1-414), chemotherapy-sensitive (RPMI-8226), and chemotherapy-resistant (DOX-1V and DOX-10V) myeloma cell lines. Results: We found significant cytotoxicity after 48-h incubation with imexon (80-160 μM) in dexamethasone and chemotherapy-sensitive and -resistant myeloma cell lines in a time- and dose-dependent manner. The mechanism of imexon cytotoxicity in all cell lines was related to induction of apoptosis with the presence of cleaved caspase-3. Moreover, after imexon exposure in C2E3 and 1-414 cell lines, we demonstrated caspase-8-dependent apoptosis. Bcl-2:bax was proapoptotic with imexon in C2E3, whereas bcl-2:bax was independent of steroid resistance, chemotherapy sensitivity, and chemotherapy resistance. Depletion of intracellular glutathione was documented in RPMI-8226 at high imexon concentrations (≥225 μM) but not in other cell lines. Furthermore, ROS were found in C2E3, RPMI-8226, and 1-310 only at high imexon concentrations, whereas a sensitive marker of oxidative DNA damage, 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine, was not increased in any cell line. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that imexon has significant broad antimyeloma activity that is mediated through apoptotic mechanisms that is not dependent on production of ROS. Moreover, we have identified a mechanism of cytotoxicity in dexamethasone-sensitive and -resistant myeloma cells induced by imexon that is caspase-8 dependent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1481-1491
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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