Cinchona alkaloids as natural fetal hemoglobin inducing agents in human erythroleukemia cells
Pharmacologically mediated reactivation of γ-globin gene with an increase in fetal hemoglobin production, is a cost effective experimental therapeutic intervention for the management of β-hemoglobinopathies. Investigation of new pharmacological agents as HbF inducers from natural resources is desirable to develop safe and effective HbF inducers. We evaluated selected cinchona alkaloids (cinchonidine and quinidine) for their potential of erythroid differentiation and augmentation of fetal hemoglobin production. K562 cells were used as in vitro experimental model. Erythroid differentiation of K562 cells was studied using a benzidine assay, and total hemoglobin was estimated through a calorimetric method. Whereas, quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) was used to analyse γ-globin gene expression, and flow cytometry and immunofluorescence microscopy for evaluating HbF production. Cinchona alkaloids showed dose dependent erythroid differentiation, time driven cellular proliferation, with kinetics of hemoglobin accumulation in K562 cells. The findings of qRT-PCR showed an increase in expression of γ-globin mRNA content (3.17-fold in cinchonidine and 2.03-fold increase in quinidine treated K562 cells), accompanied by an increase in fetal hemoglobin production. Altogether, this study demonstrates that cinchona alkaloids can be used as therapeutic agents in treating β-thalassemia after further biological investigation.