We have previously demonstrated that activation of the cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) pathway kills multiple myeloma (MM) cells both in vitro and in vivo. In the present study we have investigated the potential of enhancing the killing of MM cell lines and primary MM cells by combining the cAMP-elevating compound forskolin with the commonly used MM therapeutic drugs melphalan, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, bortezomib and dexamethasone. We observed that forskolin potentiated the killing induced by all the tested agents as compared to treatment with the single agents alone. In particular, forskolin had a synergistic effect on the dexamethasone-responsive cell lines H929 and OM-2. By knocking down the proapoptotic BCL-2 family member BIM, we proved this protein to be involved in the synergistic induction of apoptosis by dexamethasone and forskolin. The ability of forskolin to maintain the killing of MM cells even at lower concentrations of the conventional agents suggests that forskolin may be used to diminish treatment-associated side effects. Our findings support a potential role of forskolin in combination with current conventional agents in the treatment of MM.
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