Imatinib-induced apoptosis: a possible link to topoisomerase enzyme inhibition

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What is known and Objective:

Imatinib is a specific BCR/ABL inhibitor, commonly used for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), a hematological malignancy resulting from a chromosomal translocation that generates the BCR/ABL fusion protein. Recent studies showed that the imatinib has cytotoxic and apoptotic effects on many BCR/ABL-negative cancers. Numerous compounds with cytotoxic potential exert their functions by interfering with the DNA topoisomerase. In this study, we examined the effects of imatinib on tumour cell-killing in relation to DNA topoisomerase enzyme inhibition.


We determined the cytotoxicity by cell proliferation assay (XTT; tetrazolium hydroxide), using the human K562 CML cells, and loss of mitochondrial membrane potential by monitoring the changes in caspase-3 enzyme activity. Type I and II topoisomerase activities were measured by supercoiled plasmid relaxation and minicircle DNA decatenation assays respectively.

Results and Discussion:

Imatinib-induced apoptosis and inhibited cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. We also found that the imatinib was effective in both type I and type II topoisomerase reactions to a varying degree between 94% and 7% for the concentration range of 1 mm–0·02 mm in a dose-dependent manner.

What is new and Conclusion:

Our results suggest that the inhibition of topoisomerases may be a significant factor in imatinib-induced apoptosis in CML.

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