Vitamin A and its analogues (retinoids) affect normal and malignant hematopoietic cells. We examined the effect of retinoids on the clonal growth in vitro of myeloid leukemia cells. Retinoic acid inhibited the clonal growth of the KG-1, acute myeloblastic leukemia, and the HL-60, acute promyelocytic leukemia, human cell lines. The KG-1 cells were extremely sensitive to retinoic acid, with 50% of the colonies inhibited by 2.4-nM concentrations of the drug. A 50% growth inhibition of HL-60 was achieved by 25 nM retinoic acid. Complete inhibition of growth of both leukemia cell lines was seen with 1 microM retinoic acid. Exposure of KG-1 cells to retinoic acid for only 3-5 d was sufficient to inhibit all clonal growth. The all-trans and 13-cis forms of retinoic acid were equally effective in inhibiting proliferation. Retinal, retinyl acetate, and retinol (vitamin A) were less potent inhibitors. Clonal growth of the human K562 and mouse M-1 myeloid leukemic cell lines was not affected by 10 microM retinoic acid. Retinoic acid also inhibited the clonal growth of leukemia cells from five of seven patients with acute myeloid leukemia. Retinoic acid at concentrations of 5 nM to 0.3 microM inhibited 50% clonal growth, and 1 microM retinoic acid inhibited 64-98% of the leukemic colonies. The inhibition of clonal growth of KG-1 and HL-60 cell lines and of leukemic cells from two patients was not associated with the presence of a specific cytoplasmic retinoic acid-binding protein. Our study suggests that retinoic acid may prove to be effective in the treatment of human myeloid leukemia.
D Douer, H P Koeffler