Telomerase is an enzyme that adds hexameric TTAGGG nucleotide repeats to the ends of vertebrate chromosomal DNAs (i.e. telomeres) to compensate for losses that occur with each round of DNA replication. Telomerase activity, demonstrable in most human tumors, enables them to maintain telomere stability. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were sampled from 57 patients seropositive for human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I), including 24 asymptomatic viral carriers, ten smoldering type, five chronic type, and 18 acute type adult T-cell leukemia (ATL). Telomerase activity was determined in samples using a modified telomeric repeat amplification protocol. We semiquantitatively determined telomerase activity by serial dilution of each sample. All of 23 samples from acute and chronic type ATL patients were positive, seven of ten (70%) smoldering type patients and seven of 24 (29.2%) asymptomatic viral carriers were positive. Disease progression from asymptomatic viral carrier to acute type correlated with telomerase activity. Two samples from chronic type ATL patients with relatively high telomerase activity progressed to the acute type within 1 month. Serum lactate dehydrogenase level also correlated with telomerase activity. These results indicate that reactivation of telomerase activity is a key event in development and progression of ATL, and telomerase could be a useful marker for predicting the course of disease. Accordingly, ATL could be a good candidate disease for trials of telomerase inhibitors, as novel anticancer drugs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research