Study of novel natural compounds as potential drugs in the treatment of acute leukemias

Ferruzzi, Lorenzo (2014) Study of novel natural compounds as potential drugs in the treatment of acute leukemias, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze farmacologiche e tossicologiche, dello sviluppo e del movimento umano, 26 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/6458.
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Introduction: Among all cancer types leukemia represents the leading cause of cancer death in man younger than 40 years. Single-target drug therapy has generally been highly ineffective in treating complex diseases such as cancer. A growing interest has been directed toward multi-target drugs able to hit multiple targets. In this context, plant products, based on their intrinsic complexity, could represent an interesting and promising approach. Aim of the research followed during my PhD was to indentify and study novel natural compounds for the treatment of acute leukemias. Two potential multi-target drugs were identified in Hemidesmus indicus and piperlongumine. Methodology/Principal Findings: A variety of cellular assays and flow cytometry were performed on different cell lines. We demonstrated that Hemidesmus modulates many components of intracellular signaling pathways involved in cell viability and proliferation and alters gene and protein expression, eventually leading to tumor cell death, mediated by a loss of mitochondrial transmembrane potential, raise of [Ca2+]i, inhibition of Mcl-1, increasing Bax/Bcl-2 ratio, and ROS formation. Moreover, we proved that the decoction causes differentiation of HL-60 and regulates angiogenesis of HUVECs in hypoxia and normoxia, by the inhibition of new vessel formation and the processes of migration/invasion. Clinically relevant observations are that its cytotoxic activity was also recorded in primary cells from acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. Moreover, both Hemidesmus and piperlongumine showed a selective action toward leukemic stem cell (LSC). Conclusions: Our results indicate the molecular basis of the anti-leukemic effects of Hemidesmus indicus and indentify the mitochondrial pathways, [Ca2+]i, cytodifferentiation and angiogenesis inhibition as crucial actors in its anticancer activity. The ability to selectively hit LSC showed by Hemidesmus and piperlongumine enriched the knowledge of their anti-leukemic activity. On these bases, we conclude that Hemidesmus and piperlongumine can represent a valuable strategy in the anticancer pharmacology.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Ferruzzi, Lorenzo
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze biologiche, biomediche e biotecnologiche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Natural compounds; acute leukemias; multi-target therapy; anticancer therapy; leukemic stem cell
Data di discussione
7 Aprile 2014

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