Protection from apoptotic cell death by interleukin-4 is increased in previously treated chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients

Oskar S. Frankfurt, John J. Byrnes, Luis Villa

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22 Scopus citations


Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells were cultured in a medium supplemented with 0.01-1 ng/ml interleukin-4 (lL-4) for 18 h, fixed and analyzed on a flow cytometer. The percentage of apoptotic (AP) cells with hypodiploid DNA content was determined from DNA histograms. lL-4 at 0.01 ng/ml protected from spontaneous apoptosis of cells from previously treated CLL patients, but had very little effect on apoptotic death in cultures of cells from untreated patients. The number of AP cells in the absence of IL-4 was similar in cultures from treated and untreated patients. The concentration of IL-4 which inhibited spontaneous apoptosis by 50% was less than 0.01 ng/ml for pretreated patients and close to 1 ng/ml for untreated patients. Stage of the disease had no effect on the level of spontaneous apoptosis and its sensitivity to IL-4. Protection from apoptosis by lL-4 was not accompanied by the upregulation of bcl-2 protein. The number of AP cells in methylprednisolone hemisuccinate (MP) treated cultures from previously treated patients was significantly lower than in cultures from untreated patients in the presence of 0.01-1.0 ng/ml IL-4. Treatment with the combination L-phenylalanine mustard (L-PAM)+fludarabine induced synergistic apoptotic response. Apoptosis induced by this combination was relatively resistant to lL-4 in patients treated with chlorambucil and prednisone, but not in patients previously treated with fludarabine. Protection from cytotoxicity by IL-4 may be one of the mechanisms of acquired drug resistance in CLL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-16
Number of pages8
JournalLeukemia Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997


  • Apoptosis
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Interleukin-4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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