We investigated whether genetic polymorphisms in the promoter region of the proapoptotic beta-2 adrenergic receptor gene (ADRB2) influence treatment-induced changes in ADRB2 expression in leukemia cells and response to chemotherapy. The ADRB2 promoter region was genotyped in germline DNA from 369 children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). For 95 of the patients, sufficient RNA was available before and after in vivo treatment to assess treatment-induced gene expression changes in ALL cells. After treatment, the median ADRB2 mRNA expression was ninefold lower in leukemia cells of patients who ultimately relapsed as compared with patients who remained in continuous complete remission (CCR). Polymorphisms in the ADRB2 promoter were significantly linked to methotrexate (MTX)-induced upregulation in ADRB2 gene expression in ALL cells. Moreover, the ADRB2 promoter haplotype was significantly related to early treatment response in 245 children with ALL who received uniform treatment. We conclude that germline polymorphisms in ADRB2 are linked to the antileukemic effects of ALL chemotherapy.
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