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Cyclosporine Enhances the Sensitivity to Lenalidomide in MDS/AML in Vitro

Journal Title: 
Experimental Hematology
Primary Author: 
Xiaofei He
Xiaofei He, Aixia Dou, Saran Feng, Ashley Roman-Rivera, Caleb Hawkins, Lauren Lawley, Jiajia Zhang, Mark Wunderlich, Benjamin Mizukawa, Stephanie Halene, Amisha Patel, Jing Fang
Original Publication Date: 
Monday, June 1, 2020

Our previous study revealed that expression of G protein-coupled receptor 68 (GPR68) was upregulated in MDSL cells, a cell line representing myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), in response to lenalidomide (LEN), and mediated a calcium/calpain proapoptotic pathway. Isx, a GPR68 agonist, enhanced the sensitivity to LEN in MDSL cells. The fact that Isx is not a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved drug prompts us to look for alternative candidates that could enhance the sensitivity of LEN in MDS as well as other hematologic malignancies, such as acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In the study described here, we found that regulator of calcineurin 1 (RCAN1), an endogenous inhibitor of calcineurin (CaN), was upregulated in MDSL cells in response to LEN, possibly through degradation of IKZF1. Consistently, cyclosporin (Cys), a pharmacological inhibitor of CaN, inhibited the activity of CaN and induced apoptosis in MDSL cells, indicating that CaN provided a prosurvival signal in MDSL cells. In addition, Cys enhanced the cytotoxic effect of LEN in MDS/AML cell lines as well as primary bone marrow cells from MDS patients and AML patient-derived xenograft models. Intriguingly, pretreatment with LEN reversed the suppressive effect of Cys on T-cell activation. Our study suggests a novel mechanism of action of LEN in mediating cytotoxicity in MDS/AML via upregulation of RCAN1, thus inhibiting the CaN prosurvival pathway. Our study also suggests that Cys enhances the sensitivity to LEN in MDS/AML cells without compromising T-cell activation.