, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 405–421 | Cite as

Metal chelator TPEN selectively induces apoptosis in K562 cells through reactive oxygen species signaling mechanism: implications for chronic myeloid leukemia

  • Luisa Rojas-Valencia
  • Carlos Velez-PardoEmail author
  • Marlene Jimenez-Del-RioEmail author


Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a hematologic disorder characterized by the constitutive expression of BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase. Although successful implementation of tyrosine kinase inhibitors for the treatment of CML remain a traditional choice for molecularly targeted therapy, some patients present primary or secondary resistance to such therapy. Therefore, alternative therapeutic strategies are required to treat resistant CML cells. Accordingly, new anti-proliferative and/or pro-apoptotic compounds would be needed for clinical treatment. In the present investigation, we demonstrate that TPEN (e.g. 3 μM), a lipid-soluble metal chelator, induces apoptosis in K562 cells via a molecular cascade involving H2O2 ≫ JNK, NF-κB > c-JUN, P73 > PUMA, BAX > loss of ΔΨm > CASPASE-3 > nuclei/DNA fragmentation. Fragmentation of the nuclei and DNA are indicative of cell death by apoptosis. Remarkably, the antioxidant N-acetyl-cysteine, and inhibitors of the transcription factors CASPASE 3 and (JNK) kinase, decreased oxidative stress (OS) and cell death in these cells. This is evidenced by fluorescence microscopy, flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry for OS markers (e.g. generation of H2O2 and DJ 1 oxidation) and nuclear expression of apoptotic markers (e.g. activated caspase 3 and JNK kinase). In addition, TPEN causes no detectable damage in human peripheral blood lymphocyte cells (hPBLCs). We conclude that TPEN selectively induces apoptosis in K562 cells via an OS-mechanism. Our findings may provide insight into more effective CML anticancer therapies.


Apoptosis Antileukemic Chronic myeloid leukemia K562 TPEN Oxidative stress 



This work was supported by the “Committee for Development and Research [Comite para el Desarrollo y la Investigacion]-CODI”, UdeA, Grants #2013-2570 held by Marlene Jimenez-Del-Rio and Carlos Velez-Pardo. Luisa Rojas-Valencia is a master student from the Neurosciences program at the Basic Biomedical Sciences Academic Corporation, UdeA.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Author contributions

MJ-Del-R and CV-P conceived and designed the experiments; LMRV performed the experiments; and LMR-V, CV-P, MJ-Del-R analyzed the data; MJ-Del-R contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools; CV-P and MJ-Del-R wrote the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neuroscience Research Group, Medical Research Institute, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of Antioquia (UdeA), SIUMedellinColombia

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