A panel of retinoid compounds (tretinoin, isotretinoin, acitretin, and RO13-1470) were tested for inhibitory activity against Kaposi's sarcoma cell (KSC) cultures in vitro. Tretinoin was found to be the most effective retinoid tested, inhibiting the growth of KSC in vitro while having no effect on the expression of interleukin-6 and basic fibroblast growth factor, two important cytokines involved in KSC growth. Tretinoin also did not appear to downregulate the expression of receptors for these two cytokines. At low concentrations (10(-9) M), acitretin and tretinoin selectively inhibited growth of early passage KSC. At higher concentrations (10(-6)-10(-5) M), retinoid treatment induced a pattern of DNA degradation and morphological changes in KSC characteristic of apoptosis (programmed cell death). The inhibitory activity of tretinoin on KSC growth was decreased if human serum (but not fetal calf serum) was present in the growth medium, and partially restored by removal of serum lipids. These data suggest that retinoids possess potential as therapeutic agents in Kaposi's sarcoma.
J Corbeil, E Rapaport, D D Richman, D J Looney