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Garlic compounds selectively kill childhood pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells in vitro without reducing T-cell function: Potential therapeutic use in the treatment of ALL

Authors Hodge G, Davis S, Rice M, Tapp H, Saxon B, Revesz T

Published 7 March 2008 Volume 2008:2(1) Pages 143—149


Greg Hodge1, Stephen Davis2, Michael Rice1, Heather Tapp1, Ben Saxon1, Tamas Revesz1

1Haematology/Oncology Department, Women’s and Children’s Hospital, North Adelaide, Australia; 2Department of Mycology, Women’s and Children’s Hospital, North Adelaide, Australia

Abstract: Drugs used for remission induction therapy for childhood precursor-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) are nonselective for malignant cells. Several garlic compounds have been shown to induce apoptosis of cancer cells and to alter lymphocyte function. To investigate the effect of garlic on the apoptosis of ALL cells and lymphocyte immune function, cells from newly diagnosed childhood ALL patients were cultured with several commonly used chemotherapeutic agents and several garlic compounds. Apoptosis, lymphocyte proliferation and T-cell cytokine production were determined using multiparameter flow cytometry. At concentrations of garlic compounds that did not result in significant increases in Annexin V and 7-AAD staining of normal lymphocytes, there was a significant increase in apoptosis of ALL cells with no alteration of T-cell proliferation as determined by CD25/CD69 upregulation or interferonγ, interleukin-2 or tumor necrosis factor-α intracellular cytokine production. In contrast, the presence of chemotherapeutic agents resulted in nonselective increases in both lymphocyte and ALL apoptosis and a decrease in T-cell proliferation and cytokine production. In conclusion, we show selective apoptosis of malignant cells by garlic compounds that do not alter T-cell immune function and indicate the potential therapeutic benefit of garlic compounds in the treatment of childhood ALL.

Keywords: childhood precursor-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia, garlic, apoptosis, immune function, intracellular cytokines

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