Research Papers:

Targeted alpha-therapy using [Bi-213]anti-CD20 as novel treatment option for radio- and chemoresistant non-Hodgkin lymphoma cells

Mareike Roscher, Inis Hormann, Oliver Leib, Sebastian Marx, Josue Moreno, Erich Miltner and Claudia Friesen _

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Oncotarget. 2012; 4:218-230. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.817

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Mareike Roscher1,2, Inis Hormann1,2, Oliver Leib3, Sebastian Marx3, Josue Moreno3, Erich Miltner1,2, Claudia Friesen1,2

1 Centre for Biomedical Research, University of Ulm, Helmholtzstrasse 8/1, Ulm, Germany

2 Institute of Legal Medicine, University of Ulm, Prittwitzstrasse 6, Ulm, Germany

3 Isotope Technologies Garching GmbH (ITG), Lichtenbergstrasse 1, Garching, Germany


Claudia Friesen, email:

Keywords: non-Hodgkin lymphoma, targeted alpha-therapy, anti-CD20, Bismuth-213, radioresistance, apoptosis

Received: January 11, 2013 Accepted: February 22, 2013 Published: February 24, 2013


Radioimmunotherapy (RIT) is an emerging treatment option for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) producing higher overall response and complete remission rates compared with unlabelled antibodies. However, the majority of patients treated with conventional or myeloablative doses of radiolabelled antibodies relapse. The development of RIT with alpha-emitters is attractive for a variety of cancers because of the high linear energy transfer (LET) and short path length of alpha-radiation in human tissue, allowing higher tumour cell kill and lower toxicity to healthy tissues. In this study, we investigated the molecular effects of the alpha-emitter Bi-213 labelled to anti-CD20 antibodies ([Bi-213]anti-CD20) on cell cycle and cell death in sensitive and radio-/chemoresistant NHL cells. [Bi-213]anti-CD20 induced apoptosis, activated caspase-3, caspase-2 and caspase-9 and cleaved PARP specifically in CD20-expressing sensitive as well as in chemoresistant, beta-radiation resistant and gamma-radiation resistant NHL cells. CD20 negative cells were not affected by [Bi-213]anti-CD20 and unspecific antibodies labelled with Bi-213 could not kill NHL cells. Breaking radio-/chemoresistance in NHL cells using [Bi-213]anti-CD20 depends on caspase activation as demonstrated by complete inhibition of [Bi-213]anti-CD20-induced apoptosis with zVAD.fmk, a specific inhibitor of caspases activation. This suggests that deficient activation of caspases was reversed in radioresistant NHL cells using [Bi-213]anti-CD20. Activation of mitochondria, resulting in caspase-9 activation was restored and downregulation of Bcl-xL and XIAP, death-inhibiting proteins, was found after [Bi-213]anti-CD20 treatment in radio-/chemosensitive and radio-/chemoresistant NHL cells. [Bi-213]anti-CD20 seems to be a promising radioimmunoconjugate to improve therapeutic success by breaking radio- and chemoresistance selectively in CD20-expressing NHL cells via re-activating apoptotic pathways through reversing deficient activation of caspases and the mitochondrial pathway and downregulation of XIAP and Bcl-xL.

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