Eur J Pharmacol. 2023 Nov 11:176180. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2023.176180. Online ahead of print.
Adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL) is an aggressive T cell leukemia/lymphoma caused by human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-1). Acadesine or 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide riboside (AICAR) is an AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activator that was recently shown to have tumor suppressive effects on B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia, but not ATL. This study evaluated the cytotoxic effects of AICAR on ATL-related cell lines and its anti-tumor activity. Here, we demonstrated that AICAR induced cell death via apoptosis and the mitochondrial membrane depolarization of ATL-related cell lines (S1T, MT-1, and MT-2) but not non-HTLV-1-infected Jurkat cells. However, AICAR did not increase the phosphorylation levels of AMPKα. In addition, AICAR increased the expression of the death receptors (DR) DR4 and DR5, and necroptosis-related proteins including phosphorylated receptor-interacting protein family members and the mixed lineage kinase domain-like protein. Interestingly, HTLV-1 Tax, an HTLV-1-encoded oncogenic factor, did not affect AICAR-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, AICAR inhibited the growth of human ATL tumor xenografts in NOD/SCID/gamma mice in vivo. Together, these results suggest that AICAR induces AMPK-independent cell death in ATL-related cell lines and has anti-tumor activity, indicating that it might be a therapeutic agent for ATL.