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Assessment of microRNA expression in leukemic cells as predictors of sensitivity to purine nucleoside analogs, fludarabine and cladribine, in chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients

Authors Szymczyk A, Chocholska S, Macheta A, Szczepanek D, Hus M, Podhorecka M

Received 18 October 2018

Accepted for publication 18 March 2019

Published 30 May 2019 Volume 2019:11 Pages 5021—5031


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Nakshatri

Agnieszka Szymczyk,1,2 Sylwia Chocholska,1 Arkadiusz Macheta,1 Dariusz Szczepanek,3 Marek Hus,1 Monika Podhorecka1

1Department of Haematooncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation, Medical University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland; 2Department of Clinical Transplantology, Medical University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland; 3Department of Neurosurgery and Pediatric Neurosurgery, Medical University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland

Background: Great progress has been achieved lately in the therapy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), one of the most frequently diagnosed adult leukemias. New classes of drugs, such as kinase inhibitors and BCL-2 protein antagonists, have been approved for treatment of CLL patients. Despite the abovementioned therapies the disease can still be effectively treated with purine nucleoside analogs (PNA). However, some patients, for example, those with TP53 gene abnormalities, become resistant, and the other factors involved in the therapy resistance are still being investigated. This study was aimed at analyzing the possible role of microRNAs as markers predicting the outcome of chemotherapy based on PNA – fludarabine and cladribine in CLL patients.
Methods: The expression of miR-21, miR-34a, miR-181a and miR-221 in previously separated leukemic cells was assessed with the use of qRQ-PCR technique at the moment of diagnosis in 40 CLL patients. In turn, apoptosis induced by fludarabine and cladribine in 24-hour cell culture was evaluated by determining the increase in the percentage of apoptotic cells of CD5+/CD19+/Cas3+ phenotype, using a flow cytometry method. Nine of the 40 studied subjects were treated with fludarabine-based regimens and were analyzed with regards to in vivo response to PNA.
Results: We detected a significantly higher PNA-induced apoptosis rate in patients with high miR-34a expression in comparison to low expression ones. Interestingly, such differences were detected particularly in standard cytogenetic patients.
Conclusions: These results may prove an important role of miR-34a expression as a predictor of apoptosis, even in cases when other risk factors like cytogenetic abnormalities are absent. An assessment of microRNAs expression seems to be useful as an indicator of sensitivity to PNA and may help to predict PNA-based therapy outcome.

Keywords: chronic lymphocytic leukemia, microRNA, purine nucleoside analog, prognostic markers, apoptosis

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