Author(s): Testa U, Riccioni R, Militi S, Coccia E, Stellacci E,
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Abstract We have investigated the expression of interleukin-3 receptor alpha (IL-3Ralpha) chain in primary blasts from 79 patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), 25 patients with B-acute lymphoid leukemia (B-ALL), and 7 patients with T-acute lymphoid leukemia (T-ALL) to evaluate a linkage between the expression of this receptor chain, blast proliferative status, and disease prognosis. Although IL-3Ralpha chain was scarcely expressed in most patients with T-ALL, it was overexpressed in 40\% and 45\% of patients with B-ALL and AML, respectively, compared with the levels observed in normal CD34(+) progenitors. The biological and clinical significance of this overexpression pattern was investigated in AML. At the biological level, elevated IL-3Ralpha expression was associated with peculiar properties of leukemic blasts, specifically in 3 areas. First, in all patients the blasts expressing elevated IL-3Ralpha levels exhibited higher cycling activity and increased resistance to apoptosis triggered by growth factor deprivation. Second, spontaneous signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (Stat5) phosphorylation was observed in 13\% of AML patients, all pertaining to the group of patients exhibiting high IL-3Ralpha expression. Third, following IL-3 treatment, Stat5 was activated at higher levels in blasts with elevated IL-3Ralpha expression. At the clinical level, a significant correlation was observed between the level of IL-3Ralpha expression and the number of leukemic blasts at diagnosis, and patients exhibiting elevated IL-3Ralpha levels had a lower complete remission rate and survival duration than those showing normal IL-3Ralpha levels. These findings suggest that in AML, deregulated expression of IL-3Ralpha may contribute to the proliferative advantage of the leukemic blasts and, hence, to a poor prognosis.
This article was published in Blood
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology