Mesenchymal stem cells support survival and proliferation of primary human acute myeloid leukemia cells through heterogeneous molecular mechanisms
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a bone marrow malignancy, and various bone marrow stromal cells seem to support leukemogenesis, including osteoblasts and endothelial cells. We have investigated how normal bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) support the in vitro proliferation of primary human AML cells. Both MSCs and primary AML cells show constitutive release of several soluble mediators, and the mediator repertoires of the two cell types are partly overlapping. The two cell populations were cocultured on transwell plates, and MSC effects on AML cells mediated through the local cytokine/soluble mediator network could thus be evaluated. The presence of normal MSCs had an antiapoptotic and growth-enhancing effect on primary human AML cells when investigating a group of 51 unselected AML patients; this was associated with increased phosphorylation of mTOR and its downstream targets, and the effect was independent of cytogenetic or molecular-genetic abnormalities. The MSCs also supported the long-term proliferation of the AML cells. A subset of the patients also showed an altered cytokine network with supra-additive levels for several cytokines. The presence of cytokine-neutralizing antibodies or receptor inhibitors demonstrated that AML cells derived from different patients were heterogeneous with regard to effects of various cytokines on AML cell proliferation or regulation of apoptosis. We conclude that even though the effects of single cytokines derived from bone marrow MSCs on human AML cells differ among patients, the final cytokine-mediated effects of the MSCs during coculture is growth enhancement and inhibition of apoptosis.