Mebendazole exhibits potent anti-leukemia activity on acute myeloid leukemia

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Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is one of the most common types of acute leukemia in adults with the lowest survival rate of all leukemia. Resistance to cytarabine and anthracycline-based chemotherapy is a major cause of treatment failure. Thus, finding new drugs with anti-leukemia activities and minimal side effect is urgently needed. Here through screening more than 1000 drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of United States, the anthelmintic drug mebendazole (MBZ) was found to inhibit the growth of AML cell lines (THP-1, U937, NB4 and K562) and bone marrow mononuclear cells (BM-MNCs) from AML patients at pharmacologically achievable concentrations. In contrast, similar concentration of MBZ had little inhibitory effect on the growth of normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) or human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). In addition, MBZ induced mitotic arrest and mitotic catastrophe in AML cells based on nuclear morphology, cell cycle distribution, mitotic marker analyses and the number of multinucleated cells and apoptotic cells. Furthermore, MBZ treatment inhibited activation of Akt and Erk in AML leukemic cells. Finally, MBZ repressed the progression of leukemic cells in vivo and prolonged survival in AML xenograft mouse model. Taken together, our results suggest that MBZ could be a potential new therapeutic agent for the treatment of AML patients.HIGHLIGHTSMBZ inhibits the growth of AML cell lines while has little effect on normal PBMC.MBZ induces mitotic arrest, mitotic catastrophe and apoptosis in AML cells.MBZ treatment inhibits activation of Akt and Erk in AML cells.MBZ demonstrates therapeutic efficacy in AML xenograft mouse model.

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