Author(s): Ailles LE, Gerhard B, Hogge DE
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Abstract Analysis of the mitogenic activity of interleukin-3 (IL-3), Steel factor (SF), and flt-3 ligand (FL) on acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) blasts using the short-term endpoints of proliferation in 3H-thymidine (3H-Tdr) incorporation assays or methylcellulose cultures (colony assays) showed that greater than 90\% of samples contained cells that were responsive to one or more of these cytokines. With this information, culture conditions that were known to support normal long-term culture-initiating cells (LTC-IC) were tested, with or without supplements of one or more of these three growth factors, for their ability to support primitive progenitors from 10 cell samples from patients with AML. In all cases cytogenetically abnormal colony forming cells (CFC) were detected after 5 weeks when AML peripheral blood or marrow cells were cocultured on preestablished, normal human marrow feeders (HMF) and/or SI/SI mouse fibroblast feeders and the number of CFC detected in these 5-week-old LTC maintained a linear relationship to the number of input AML cells. Limiting dilution analysis, performed on 6 of the 10 samples, showed the frequency of AML cells initiating LTC (AML LTC-IC) to be 5- to 300-fold lower than the frequency of AML-CFC in the same cell sample, whereas the average number of CFC produced per LTC-IC varied from 1 to 13. Surprisingly, in each case the concentration of cytogenetically normal LTC-IC detected in AML patient blood was at least 10-fold higher than that previously observed in the blood of normal individuals. "Mixed" mouse fibroblast feeders engineered to produce human G-CSF, IL-3, and SF did not enhance detection of AML LTC-IC but did increase the output of cytogenetically normal CFC from LTC of 3 of 4 patient samples. Supplementation of AML LTC with IL-3 and exogenously provided SF and/or FL increased the output of AML-CFC from 5-week-old LTC by greater than or equal to twofold with 5 of 9 patient samples, whereas in one case exogenous addition of FL reduced the output of malignant CFC from LTC. These studies show that conditions that support normal LTC-IC also allow a functionally analogous but rare AML progenitor cell type to be detected. In addition, differences in the responses of normal and leukemic cells to various cytokines active on normal LTC-IC were revealed. Further analysis of these differences may enhance our understanding of leukemogenesis and lead to observations that could be exploited therapeutically.
This article was published in Blood
and referenced in Journal of Stem Cell Research & Therapy