• CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein α;
  • differentiation;
  • hypoxia;
  • intracellular pH;
  • mitogen-activated protein kinase;
  • Na+/H+ exchanger 1


The effect of hypoxia on the differentiation of chronic myeloid leukaemic K562 cells were studied, as was the role of the NHE1 (Na+/H+ exchanger 1). Hypoxia induced differentiation of K562 cells as seen by modifications in their morphological features, up-regulation of C/EBPα (CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein α), and marked IL-8 (interleukin-8) release. Inhibition of NHE1 under hypoxia additionally enhanced the level of C/EBPα and further promoted leukaemic cells differentiation. Pharmacological inhibition of p38 MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) also significantly suppressed C/EBPα expression under hypoxia conditions after NHE1 inhibition. These results indicate the enhancement of hypoxia-induced K562 differentiation by NHE1 inhibition, which may be due to up-regulation of C/EBPα via p38 MAPK signalling pathway, which suggests a possible therapeutic target of NHE1 under hypoxia microenvironment in the treatment of leukaemic diseases.