Objective: The mechanisms that regulate mitogenic and antiapoptotic signals in primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) are not well known. In efforts to identify novel approaches to block the proliferation of PEL cells, we assessed the effect of apigenin (4′,5,7-trihydroxyflavone), a flavonoid on a panel of PEL cell lines.
Materials and methods: We studied the effect of apigenin on four PEL cell lines. Apoptosis was measured by annexin V/PI dual staining and DNA laddering. Protein expression was measured by immunoblotting.
Results: Apigenin induced apoptosis in PEL cell lines in a dose dependent manner. Such effects of apigenin appeared to result from suppression of constitutively active kinase AKT resulting in down-regulation of SKP2, hypo-phosphorylation of Rb and accumulation of p27Kip1. Apigenin treatment of PEL cells caused dephosphorylation of p-Bad protein leading to down regulation of the anti-apoptotic protein, Bcl-2 and an increase in Bax/Bcl2 ratio. Apigenin treatment also triggered Bax conformational change and subsequently translocation from cytosole to mitochondria causing loss of mitochondrial membrane potential with subsequent release of cytochrome c. Released cytochrome c onto the cytosole activated caspase-9 and caspase-3, followed by polyadenosin-5′-diphosphate-ribose polymerase (PARP) cleavage. Finally, treatment of PEL cells with apigenin down-regulated the expression of inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAPs).
Conclusions: Altogether, these data suggest a novel function for apigenin, acting as a suppressor of AKT/PKB pathway in PEL cells, and raise the possibility that this agent may have a future therapeutic role in PEL and possibly other malignancies with constitutive activation of the AKT/PKB pathway.