Arsenic trioxide (ATO), one of the oldest drugs in both Western and traditional Chinese medicine, has become an effective anticancer drug, especially in the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). However, thrombocytopenia occurred in most of ATO-treated patients with APL or other malignant diseases, and the pathogenesis remains unclear. Here we show that ATO dose-dependently induces depolarization of mitochondrial inner transmembrane potential (ΔΨm), up-regulation of Bax and down-regulation of Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL, caspase-3 activation, and phosphotidylserine (PS) exposure in platelets. ATO did not induce surface expression of P-selectin and PAC-1 binding, whereas, obviously reduced collagen, ADP, and thrombin induced platelet aggregation. ATO dose-dependently induced c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) activation, and JNK specific inhibitor dicumarol obviously reduced ATO-induced ΔΨm depolarization in platelets. Clinical therapeutic dosage of ATO was intraperitoneally injected into C57 mice, and the numbers of circulating platelets were significantly reduced after five days of continuous injection. The data demonstrate that ATO induces caspase-dependent apoptosis via JNK activation in platelets. ATO does not incur platelet activation, whereas, it not only impairs platelet function but also reduces circulating platelets in vivo, suggesting the possible pathogenesis of thrombocytopenia in patients treated with ATO.
Wu, Y., Dai, J., Zhang, W., Yan, R., Zhang, Y., Ruan, C., & Dai, K. (2014). Arsenic trioxide induces apoptosis in human platelets via C-Jun NH 2-terminal kinase activation. PLoS ONE, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0086445