Caspase 2 and caspase 3 as predictors of complete remission and survival in adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Stefan Faderl, Peter F. Thall, Hagop M. Kantarjian, Moshe Talpaz, David Harris, Quin Van, Miloslav Beran, Steven M. Kornblau, Sherry Pierce, Zeev Estrov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Dysregulation of apoptosis is an important mechanism in leukemogenesis. Caspases are cysteine proteases that play a major role in the activation of apoptotic pathways and chemotherapy-induced cell death. High levels of inactive, uncleaved caspase 2 and caspase 3 have recently been associated with poor survival in patients with acute myelogenous leukemia. We hypothesized a similarly significant role for caspase 2 and caspase 3 in patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. We determined levels of uncleaved caspase 2 and caspase 3 by quantitative Western blot analysis in peripheral blood samples of 45 adults with newly diagnosed ALL. We evaluated patient prognostic variables and caspase levels using multivariate logistic and Cox regression models to determine their impact on complete remission rate and overall survival probability. Levels of caspase 2 and, to a lesser degree, caspase 3 were highly associated with cytogenetic abnormalities, with lower levels in the diploid group (P = 0.016 and P = 0.10, respectively). No association between either caspase level and the percentage of bone marrow blasts was found. A high level of caspase 3 (>0.37 as determined graphically) was significantly associated with achieving complete remission (CR; P = 0.006). A multivariate logistic regression analysis including age, WBC count, percentage of peripheral and marrow blasts, hemoglobin, albumin, lactate dehydrogenase, bilirubin, and creatinine determined that a high level of caspase 3 was the most significant predictor of CR (P = 0.025, adjusted), with albumin the only other significant variable (P = 0.031). Caspase 2 levels were not associated with probability of CR. In a multivariate Cox model for survival, however, levels of caspase 2 above 0.37 were associated with a lower survival probability than were levels below that threshold (P = 0.064). High levels of caspase 3 may have a significant effect on achieving CR. Because of the limited power (n = 45) of our study, the significance of caspase 2 and caspase 3 on overall survival remains to be validated by further investigations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4041-4047
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1999
Externally publishedYes


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