Background: Drug resistance and chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy continue to be significant problems in the successful treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). 5,7-Dibromo-N-alkylisatins, a class of potent microtubule destabilizers, are a promising alternative to traditionally used antimitotics with previous demonstrated efficacy against solid tumours in vivo and ability to overcome P-glycoprotein (P-gp) mediated drug resistance in
lymphoma and sarcoma cell lines in vitro. In this study, three di-brominated N-alkylisatins were assessed for their ability to retain potency in vincristine (VCR) and 2-methoxyestradiol (2ME2) resistant ALL cell lines. For the first time, in vitro neurotoxicity was also investigated in order to establish their suitability as candidate drugs for future use in ALL treatment.
Methods: Vincristine resistant (CEM-VCR R) and 2-methoxyestradiol resistant (CEM/2ME2-28.8R) ALL cell lines were used to investigate the ability of N-alkylisatins to overcome chemoresistance. Interaction of N-alkylisatins with tubulin at the the colchicine-binding site was studied by competitive assay using the fluorescent colchicine analogue MTC. Human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells differentiated into a morphological and functional dopaminergic-like neurotransmitter phenotype were used for neurotoxicity and neurofunctional assays. Two-way ANOVA followed by a Tukey’s post hoc test or a two-tailed paired t test was used to determine statistical significance.
Results: CEM-VCR R and CEM/2ME2-28.8R cells displayed resistance indices of > 100 to VCR and 2-ME2, respectively. CEM-VCR R cells additionally displayed a multi-drug resistant phenotype with significant cross resistance to vinblastine, 2ME2, colchicine and paclitaxel consistent with P-gp overexpression. Despite differences in resistance mechanisms observed between the two cell lines, the N-alkylisatins displayed bioequivalent dose-dependent cytotoxicity to that of the parental control cell line. The N-alkylisatins proved to be significantly less neurotoxic towards differentiated SH-SY5Y cells than VCR and vinblastine, evidenced by increased neurite length and number of neurite branch points. Neuronal cells treated with 5,7-dibromo-N-(p-hydroxymethylbenzyl)isatin showed significantly higher voltage-gated.