Hyperglycemia increases the risk of early recurrence and high mortality in some adult blood cancers. In response to increased glucose levels, insulin is secreted, and several studies have shown that insulin-induced AKT signaling can regulate tumor cell proliferation and apoptosis. The AKT pathway is aberrantly activated in adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), but the mechanisms underlying this activation and its impact in pediatric patients with ALL are unclear.
Materials and Methods:
We evaluated the insulin-induced chemoresistance and AKT pathway activation by measuring cell proliferation, apoptosis, and other parameters in ALL cell lines (Jurkat and Reh cells), as well as in primary pediatric leukemic cell samples, after culture with insulin, the chemotherapeutic drugs daunorubicin (DNR), vincristine (VCR), and L-asparaginase (L-Asp), or anti-insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R) monoclonal antibody.
DNR, VCR, and L-Asp-induced toxicity in Jurkat and Reh cells was reduced in the presence of insulin. DNR promoted cell proliferation, whereas DNR, VCR, and L-Asp all reduced apoptosis in both cell lines cotreated with insulin compared with that in cell lines treated with chemotherapeutics alone (P<0.05). Furthermore, addition of an anti-IGF-1R monoclonal antibody promoted apoptosis, downregulated IGF-1R expression, and decreased the phosphorylation of AKT, P70S6K, and mTOR intracellular signaling pathway proteins in both cell lines, as well as in primary cultures (P<0.05).
Our results suggest that insulin-induced chemoresistance and activation of the AKT signaling pathway in pediatric ALL cells.