Parthenolide induces significant apoptosis and production of reactive oxygen species in high-risk pre-B leukemia cells

Susan J. Zunino, Jonathan M Ducore, David H. Storms

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54 Scopus citations


We investigated whether parthenolide, the principal bioactive component of the herb feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) induced apoptosis in pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) lines, including cells carrying the t(4;11)(q21;q23) chromosomal translocation. Parthenolide induced rapid apoptotic cell death distinguished by loss of nuclear DNA, externalization of cell membrane phosphatidylserine, and depolarization of mitochondrial membranes at concentrations ranging from 5 to 100 μM. Using reactive oxygen species (ROS)-specific dyes, an increase in nitric oxide and superoxide anion was detected in the cells by 4 h after exposure to parthenolide. Parthenolide-induced elevation of hypochlorite anion was observed only in the two t(4;11) lines. These data suggest parthenolide may have potential as a potent and novel therapeutic agent against pre-B ALLs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-127
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 28 2007



  • Apoptosis
  • Leukemia
  • Mitochondria
  • Parthenolide
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • ROS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Molecular Biology
  • Oncology

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