Antioxid Redox Signal 2013 Apr 28;18(11):1349-83. Epub 2012 Sep 28.
Department of Pediatrics Research, Children's Cancer Hospital, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) play both positive and negative roles in the proliferation and survival of a cell. This dual nature has been exploited by leukemia cells to promote growth, survival, and genomic instability-some of the hallmarks of the cancer phenotype. In addition to altered ROS levels, many antioxidants are dysregulated in leukemia cells. Together, the production of ROS and the expression and activity of antioxidant enzymes make up the primary redox control of leukemia cells. By manipulating this system, leukemia cells gain proliferative and survival advantages, even in the face of therapeutic insults. Standard treatment options have improved leukemia patient survival rates in recent years, although relapse and the development of resistance are persistent challenges. Therapies targeting the redox environment show promise for these cases. This review highlights the molecular mechanisms that control the redox milieu of leukemia cells. In particular, ROS production by the mitochondrial electron transport chain, NADPH oxidase, xanthine oxidoreductase, and cytochrome P450 will be addressed. Expression and activation of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, heme oxygenase, glutathione, thioredoxin, and peroxiredoxin are perturbed in leukemia cells, and the functional consequences of these molecular alterations will be described. Lastly, we delve into how these pathways can be potentially exploited therapeutically to improve treatment regimens and promote better outcomes for leukemia patients.