Tumor acidity, ion trapping and chemotherapeutics. I. Acid pH affects the distribution of chemotherapeutic agents in vitro.
We have developed a method to quantify topoisomerase (topo) II activities in partially purified nuclear extracts from human leukemia cells. By virtue of their different pH optima in the reaction buffer, two different topo II activities were found with activity optima at pH 7.9 and at pH 8.9 under high stringency conditions. The activities could be identified as topo II beta activity (pH 7.9) and topo II alpha activity (pH 8.9) by their different sensitivities to topo II alpha inhibitors, dephosphorylation experiments and immunoprecipitation with polyclonal antibodies. Seventy-two bone marrow or blood samples from patients with acute myeloid leukemias have been examined and their in vitro sensitivities to anthracyclines and epipodophyllotoxines correlated to the activities of topo II alpha and topo II beta. Although the topo II alpha activity could be directly inhibited by incubation of the cells with the mentioned drugs, no correlation between the topo II alpha activity and the sensitivity of the cells could be found. In contrast, the topo II beta activity which was not substantially inhibited by the drugs inversely correlated with the sensitivity of the cells. These findings were statistically significant for idarubicin (P= 0.017) and daunorubicin (P = 0.006). Vice versa, resistant cells (IC50 > median) had a higher topo II beta activity. Clinical relevance might be indicated by the finding that cells from patients that relapsed after initial treatment with anthracyclin-containing regiments had a significantly higher topo II alpha/beta activity ratio (P=0.0276). Obviously, the sensitivity of AML cells is substantially influenced by the activity of the resistant topo II (topo II beta) which gives evidence that the remaining topo II activity after treatment helps the cell to survive the DNA repair phase.