Novel triterpenoid CDDO-Me is a potent inducer of apoptosis and differentiation in acute myelogenous leukemia

Marina Konopleva, Twee Tsao, Peter Ruvolo, Irina Stiouf, Zeev Estrov, Clinton E. Leysath, Shourong Zhao, David Harris, Shirong Chang, C. Ellen Jackson, Mark Munsell, Nanjoo Suh, Gordon Gribble, Tadashi Honda, W. Stratford May, Michael B. Sporn, Michael Andreeff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

163 Scopus citations


It has been shown that the novel synthetic triterpenoid CDDO inhibits proliferation and induces differentiation and apoptosis in myeloid leukemia cells. In the current study the effects of the C-28 methyl ester of CDDO, CDDO-Me, were analyzed on cell growth and apoptosis of leukemic cell lines and primary acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). CDDO-Me decreased the viability of leukemic cell lines, including multidrug resistant (MDR)-1-overexpressing, p53null HL-60-Dox and of primary AML cells, and it was 3- to 5-fold more active than CDDO. CDDO-Me induced a loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, induction of caspase-3 cleavage, increase in annexin V binding and DNA fragmentation, suggesting the induction of apoptosis. CDDO-Me induced proapoptotic Bax protein that preceded caspase activation. Furthermore, CDDO-Me inhibited the activation of ERK1/2, as determined by the inhibition of mitochondrial ERK1/2 phosphorylation, and it blocked Bcl-2 phosphorylation, rendering Bcl-2 less anti-apoptotic. CDDO-Me induced granulo-monocytic differentiation in HL-60 cells and monocytic differentiation in primary cells. Of significance, colony formation of AML progenitors was significantly inhibited in a dose-dependent fashion, whereas normal CD34+ progenitor cells were less affected. Combinations with ATRA or the RXR-specific ligand LG100268 enhanced the effects of CDDO-Me on cell viability and terminal differentiation of myeloid leukemic cell lines. In conclusion, CDDO-Me is an MDR-1- and a p53-independent compound that exerts strong antiproliferative, apoptotic, and differentiating effects in myeloid leukemic cell lines and in primary AML samples when given in submicromolar concentrations. Differential effects of CDDO-Me on leukemic and normal progenitor cells suggest that CDDO-Me has potential as a novel compound in the treatment of hematologic malignancies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-335
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hematology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Immunology


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