Forodesine and nelarabine (the pro-drug of ara-G) are 2 nucleoside analogues with promising anti-leukemic activity. To better understand which pediatric patients might benefit from forodesine or nelarabine (ara-G) therapy, we investigated the in vitro sensitivity to these drugs in 96 diagnostic pediatric leukemia patient samples and the mRNA expression levels of different enzymes involved in nucleoside metabolism. Forodesine and ara-G cytotoxicities were higher in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) samples than in B-cell precursor (BCP)-ALL and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) samples. Resistance to forodesine did not preclude ara-G sensitivity and vice versa, indicating that both drugs rely on different resistance mechanisms. Differences in sensitivity could be partly explained by significantly higher accumulation of intra-cellular dGTP in forodesine-sensitive samples compared with resistant samples, and higher mRNA levels of dGK but not dCK. The mRNA levels of the transporters ENT1 and ENT2 were higher in ara-G-sensitive than -resistant samples. We conclude that especially T-ALL, but also BCP-ALL, pediatric patients may benefit from forodesine or nelarabine (ara-G) treatment.

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Homminga, I, Zwaan, C.M, Manz, C.Y, Parker, C, Bantia, S, Smits, W.K, … Meijerink, J.P.P. (2011). In vitro efficacy of forodesine and nelarabine (ara-G) in pediatric leukemia. Blood, 118(8), 2184–2190. doi:10.1182/blood-2011-02-337840