bims-tremyl Biomed News
on Therapy resistance biology in myeloid leukemia
Issue of 2020‒12‒06
27 papers selected by
Paolo Gallipoli
Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London

  1. Blood. 2020 Nov 30. pii: blood.2020007075. [Epub ahead of print]
      Isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) mutations are common genetic alterations in myeloid disorders, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Epigenetic changes, including abnormal histone and DNA methylation, have been implicated in the pathogenic build-up of hematopoietic progenitors, but it is still unclear whether and how IDH mutations themselves affect hematopoiesis. Here, we show that IDH1-mutant mice develop myeloid dysplasia in that these animals exhibit anemia, ineffective erythropoiesis, increased immature progenitor and erythroblast. In erythroid cells of these mice, D-2-hydroxyglutarate (D-2HG), an aberrant metabolite produced by the mutant IDH1 enzyme, inhibits oxoglutarate dehydrogenase (OGDH) activity and diminishes succinyl-CoA production. This succinyl-CoA deficiency attenuates heme biosynthesis in IDH1-mutant hematopoietic cells, thus blocking erythroid differentiation at the late erythroblast stage and the erythroid commitment of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), while the exogenous succinyl-CoA or 5-ALA rescues erythropoiesis in IDH1-mutant erythroid cells. Heme deficiency also impairs heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) expression, which reduces levels of important heme catabolites such as biliverdin and bilirubin. These deficits result in accumulation of excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) that induce the cell death of IDH1-mutant erythroid cells. Our results clearly demonstrate the essential role of IDH1 in normal erythropoiesis and show how its mutation leads to myeloid disorders. Our data thus have important implications for the devising of new treatments for IDH-mutant tumors.
  2. Biomed Pharmacother. 2020 Nov 27. pii: S0753-3322(20)31246-4. [Epub ahead of print]133 111054
      Acute myeloid leukemia harboring internal tandem duplication of FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3-ITD AML) is a subset of highly aggressive malignancies with poor clinical outcome. Despite some advances in the development of FLT3 tyrosine kinase inhibitors (FLT3 inhibitors), most of FLT3-ITD AML patients suffer from lethal disease relapse, suggesting the requirement of novel targets and agents. Here we describe a natural small molecule, triptonide that can efficiently inhibit FLT3-ITD-driven AML in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, triptonide targeted Hedgehog/FLT3 signaling by inhibiting its critical effectors, which are GLI2, c-Myc and FLT3 and induced apoptosis of FLT3-ITD-driven leukemia cells. In addition, we also observed that triptonide activated tumor suppressor p53. In vivo, triptonide treatment markedly suppressed lethal FLT3-ITD-driven AML with good tolerance and prolonged survival time in orthotopic mouse model. Our studies identify Hedgehog/FLT3 axis as a novel target for treating FLT3-ITD-driven leukemia and demonstrate that triptonide is an active lead compound that can kill FLT3-ITD-driven leukemia cells.
    Keywords:  FLT3; FLT3-ITD-driven AML; GLI2; Hedgehog signaling; Triptonide
  3. Haematologica. 2020 May 21. 105(12): 2795-2804
      Novel targeted therapies demonstrate improved survival in specific subgroups (defined by genetic variants) of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients, validating the paradigm of molecularly targeted therapy. However, identifying correlations between AML molecular attributes and effective therapies is challenging. Recent advances in high-throughput in vitro drug sensitivity screening applied to primary AML blasts were used to uncover such correlations; however, these methods cannot predict the response of leukemic stem cells (LSCs). Our study aimed to predict in vitro response to targeted therapies, based on molecular markers, with subsequent validation in LSCs. We performed ex vivo sensitivity screening to 46 drugs on 29 primary AML samples at diagnosis or relapse. Using unsupervised hierarchical clustering analysis we identified group with sensitivity to several tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), including the multi-TKI, dasatinib, and searched for correlations between dasatinib response, exome sequencing and gene expression from our dataset and from the Beat AML dataset. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering analysis of gene expression resulted in clustering of dasatinib responders and non-responders. In vitro response to dasatinib could be predicted based on gene expression (AUC=0.78). Furthermore, mutations in FLT3/ITD and PTPN11 were enriched in the dasatinib sensitive samples as opposed to mutations in TP53 which were enriched in resistant samples. Based on these results, we selected FLT3/ITD AML samples and injected them to NSG-SGM3 mice. Our results demonstrate that in a subgroup of FLT3/ITD AML (4 out of 9) dasatinib significantly inhibits LSC engraftment. In summary we show that dasatinib has an anti-leukemic effect both on bulk blasts and, more importantly, LSCs from a subset of AML patients that can be identified based on mutational and expression profiles. Our data provide a rational basis for clinical trials of dasatinib in a molecularly selected subset of AML patients.
  4. Leukemia. 2020 Dec 01.
      Pharmacological inhibition of MDM2/4, which activates the critical tumor suppressor p53, has been gaining increasing interest as a strategy for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). While clinical trials of MDM2 inhibitors have shown promise, responses have been confined to largely molecularly undefined patients, indicating that new biomarkers and optimized treatment strategies are needed. We previously reported that the microRNA miR-10a is strongly overexpressed in some AML, and demonstrate here that it modulates several key members of the p53/Rb network, including p53 regulator MDM4, Rb regulator RB1CC1, p21 regulator TFAP2C, and p53 itself. The expression of both miR-10a and its downstream targets were strongly predictive of MDM2 inhibitor sensitivity in cell lines, primary AML specimens, and correlated to response in patients treated with both MDM2 inhibitors and cytarabine. Furthermore, miR-10a inhibition induced synergy between MDM2 inhibitor Nutlin-3a and cytarabine in both in vitro and in vivo AML models. Mechanistically this synergism primarily occurs via the p53-mediated activation of cytotoxic apoptosis at the expense of cytoprotective autophagy. Together these findings demonstrate that miR-10a may be useful as both a biomarker to identify patients most likely to respond to cytarabine+MDM2 inhibition and also a druggable target to increase their efficacy.
  5. Blood. 2020 Dec 03. pii: blood.2019004108. [Epub ahead of print]
      Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains a devastating disease in need of new therapies to improve patient survival. Targeted, adoptive T cell therapies have achieved impressive clinical outcomes in some B-cell leukemias and lymphomas but not in AML. Double negative T cells (DNTs) effectively kill blast cells from the majority of AML patients and are now being tested in clinical trials. However, AML blasts obtained from ~30% of patients show resistance to DNT cell-mediated cytotoxicity; the markers or mechanisms underlying this resistance have not been elucidated. Here, we used a targeted CRISPR/Cas9 screen to identify genes that confer susceptibility of AML cells to DNT cell therapy. Inactivation of the SAGA deubiquitinating complex components sensitized AML cells to DNT-mediated cytotoxicity. In contrast, CD64 inactivation resulted in resistance to DNT-mediated cytotoxicity. Importantly, the level of CD64 expression strongly correlated with the sensitivity of AML cells to DNT cell treatment. Furthermore, the ectopic expression of CD64 overcame AML resistance to DNTs both in vitro and in vivo. Altogether, our data demonstrate the utility of CRISPR/Cas9 screens to uncover mechanisms underlying the sensitivity to DNT cell therapy and suggest CD64 as a predictive marker for response in AML patients.
  6. Cancers (Basel). 2020 Nov 25. pii: E3511. [Epub ahead of print]12(12):
      RAF molecules play a critical role in cell signaling through their integral impact on the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK signaling pathway, which is constitutively activated in a sizeable subset of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. We evaluated the impact of pan-RAF inhibition using LY3009120 in AML cells harboring mutations upstream and downstream of RAF. LY3009120 had anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects and suppressed pERK1/2 levels in leukemic cells with RAS and FLT3 mutations. Using reverse protein phase array analysis, we identified reductions in the expression/activation of cell signaling components downstream of RAF (activated p38) and cell cycle regulators (Wee1/cyclin B1, Cdc2/Cdk1, activated Rb, etc.). Notably, LY3009120 potentiated the effect of Ara-C on AML cells and overcame bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cell-mediated chemoresistance, with RAS-mutated cells showing a notable reduction in pAKT (Ser473). Furthermore, the combination of LY3009120 and sorafenib resulted in significantly higher levels of apoptosis in AML cells with heterozygous and hemizygous FLT3 mutations. In conclusion, pan-RAF inhibition in AML using LY3009120 results in anti-leukemic activity, and combination with Ara-C or sorafenib potentiates its effect.
    Keywords:  FLT3; RAF; RAS; acute myeloid leukemia; preclinical
  7. Am J Hematol. 2020 Dec 02.
      Hypomethylating agents (HMA) with venetoclax is a new standard for older/unfit patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). However, it is unknown how HMA with venetoclax compare to intensive chemotherapy (IC) in patients who are 'fit' or 'unfit' for IC. We compared outcomes of older patients with newly diagnosed AML receiving 10-day decitabine with venetoclax (DEC10-VEN) versus IC. DEC10-VEN consisted of daily venetoclax with decitabine 20 mg/m2 for 10-days for induction and decitabine for 5-days as consolidation. The IC cohort received regimens containing cytarabine ≥1 g/m2 /d. A validated treatment-related mortality score (TRMS) was used to classify patients at high- or low-risk for TRM with IC. Propensity scores were used to match patients to minimize bias. Median age of the DEC10-VEN cohort (n=85) was 72 years (range 63-89) and 28% patients were at high-risk of TRM with IC. The comparator IC group (n=85) matched closely in terms of baseline characteristics. DEC10-VEN was associated with significantly higher CR/CRi compared to IC (81% vs 52%, p<.001), and lower rate of relapse (34% vs 56%, p=.01), 30-day mortality (1% vs 24%, p<.01), and longer overall survival (OS; 12.4 vs 4.5 months, HR=0.48, 95%CI 0.29-0.79, p<.01). In patients at both at high- and low-risk of TRM, DEC10-VEN showed significantly higher CR/CRi, lower 30-day mortality, and longer OS compared to IC. Patients at both high- and low-risk of TRM had comparable outcomes with DEC10-VEN. DEC10-VEN offers superior outcomes compared to IC in older patients with AML, particularly in patients at high-risk of TRM. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
  8. Hematology. 2020 Dec;25(1): 446-456
      Objectives: A total of 156 adult acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients were enrolled in this study to explore the clinical characteristics and prognostic impact of ASXL1 mutations. Methods: Clinical characteristics, prognostic impact and the association between ASXL1 mutations and some other mutations were analyzed. Results: We found ASXL1 mutations were most frequently found in M5 subtype and intermediate risk karyotype and were correlated with TET2, DNMT3A and PHF6 mutations. A total of 145 patients were included in prognostic analysis; results showed ASXL1 mutations had no impact on OS and DFS. In normal karyotype-AML (CN-AML) and older (≥60 years) AML, ASXL1 mutations showed adverse impact on OS (P = 0.022; p = 0.019, respectively) and showed adverse prognostic tendency on DFS (p = 0.173; p = 0.108, respectively). ASXL1 mutations were also independent unfavourable prognostic factors for OS on CN-AML and older (≥60 years) AML patients and unfavourable factors for DFS on older (≥60 years) AML in multivariate analysis. Results also indicated that though ASXL1 mutations were associated with TET2, DNMT3A and PHF6 mutations, when coinciding with ASXL1 mutations, the prognosis of AML was not significantly impacted. Discussion: The reliability of our results need to be further confirmed by prospective randomized controlled studies covering a large numbers of AML patients. Conclusion: The results showed ASXL1 mutations may act as a poor prognostic index especially in elder AML and CN-AML patients.
    Keywords:   ASXL1 mutations; Acute myeloid leukemia; clinical characteristic; prognosis
  9. Acta Haematol. 2020 Dec 03. 1-10
      INTRODUCTION: In this single-center study of 268 acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients, we have tested if a subset of 4 routinely employed immunophenotypic stem cell-associated markers correlated with the presence of recurrently mutated genes and if the markers were predictive for mutational status.METHODS: Immunophenotypic data from 268 diagnostic AML samples obtained in 2009-2018 were analyzed retrospectively for the antigens CD34, CD117, CD123, and CLEC12A. Correlation between immunophenotypes and mutations was analyzed by Fischer's exact test. Clinical applicability of the markers for predicting mutational status was evaluated by receiver operating characteristics analyses, where an area under the curve (AUC) of at least 0.85 was accepted as clinically relevant.
    RESULTS: For a number of genes, the antigen expression differed significantly between mutated and wild-type gene expression. Despite low AUCs, CD123 and CLEC12A correlated with FLT3+NPM1- and FLT3+NPM1+. Three subsets met the AUC requirements (CD34+, CD34+CD117+, and CD34-CD117+) for predicting FLT3-NPM1+ or FLT3+NPM1+.
    CONCLUSION: The value of immunophenotypes as surrogate markers for mutational status in AML seems limited when employing CD123 and CLEC12A in combination with CD34 and CD117. Defining relevant cutoffs for given markers is challenging and hampered by variation between laboratories and patient groups.
    Keywords:  Acute myeloid leukemia; Flow cytometry; Immunophenotype; Mutations; Prognosis
  10. Cancer Discov. 2020 Dec 04. pii: CD-20-1579. [Epub ahead of print]
      Clinical outcome of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is associated with cytogenetic and molecular factors and patient demographics (e.g., age and race). We compared survival of 25,523 Non-Hispanic Black and White adults with AML using Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program data, and performed mutational profiling of 1,339 AML patients treated on frontline Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology (Alliance) protocols. Black patients had shorter survival than White patients, both in SEER and in the setting of Alliance clinical trials. The disparity was especially pronounced in Black patients <60 years, after adjustment for socioeconomic (SEER) and molecular (Alliance) factors. Black race was an independent prognosticator of poor survival. Gene mutation profiles showed fewer NPM1 and more IDH2 mutations in younger Black patients. Overall survival of younger Black patients was adversely affected by IDH2 mutations and FLT3-ITD, but, in contrast to White patients, was not improved by NPM1 mutations.
  11. Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program. 2020 Dec 04. 2020(1): 237-242
      Patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) often have comorbidities, at an incidence that might be higher than in the general population. Because of the favorable outcome of most patients with CML treated with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), a greater number of comorbidities might be the most significant adverse feature for long-term survival. The presence of comorbidities may also affect the risk of developing adverse events with TKIs. This effect is perhaps best exemplified by the risk of developing arterio-occlusive events, which is greatest for patients who have other risk factors for such events, with the risk increasing with higher numbers of comorbidities. The coexistence of comorbidities in patients with CML not only may affect TKI selection but also demands close monitoring of the overall health condition of the patient to optimize safety and provide the opportunity for an optimal outcome to such patients. With optimal, holistic management of leukemia and all other conditions afflicting them, patients with CML and comorbidities may aim for a near-normal life expectancy, just as the more select patients enrolled in clinical trials now enjoy.
  12. Mol Cell Proteomics. 2020 Nov 30. pii: mcp.RA120.002169. [Epub ahead of print]
      Extracellular vesicle (EV) proteins from acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cell lines were analyzed using mass spectrometry. The analyses identified 2450 proteins, including 461 differentially expressed proteins (290 upregulated and 171 downregulated). CD53 and CD47 were upregulated and were selected as candidate biomarkers. The association between survival of patients with AML and the expression levels of CD53 and CD47 at diagnosis was analyzed using mRNA expression data from The Cancer Genome Atlas database. Patients with higher expression levels showed significantly inferior survival than those with lower expression levels. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay results of the expression levels of CD53 and CD47 from EVs in the bone marrow of patients with AML at diagnosis and at the time of complete remission with induction chemotherapy revealed that patients with downregulated CD53 and CD47 expression appeared to relapse less frequently. Network model analysis of EV proteins revealed several upregulated kinases, including LYN, CSNK2A1, SYK, CSK, and PTK2B. The potential cytotoxicity of several clinically applicable drugs that inhibit these kinases was tested in AML cell lines. The drugs lowered the viability of AML cells. The collective data suggest that AML-derived EVs could reflect essential leukemia biology.
    Keywords:  Acute myeloid leukemia; Biostatistics; Cancer Biology*; Drug targets*; Mass Spectrometry; Protein Identification*; Proteomics; extracellular vesicle
  13. Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program. 2020 Dec 04. 2020(1): 243-247
      The paradigm for managing patients with chronic myeloid leukemia is evolving. In the recent past, restoring a normal life expectancy while patients are receiving never-ending targeted therapy with BCR-ABL1 tyrosine kinase inhibitors through prevention of progression to blast phase and mitigation of iatrogenic risks was considered the best achievable outcome. Now, long-term treatment-free remission with continued response off tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy is recognized as the most optimal benefit of treatment. Indeed, numerous independent clinical trials provided solid proof that tyrosine kinase inhibitor discontinuation was feasible in patients with deep and sustained molecular responses. This article discusses when tyrosine kinase inhibitors may be safely stopped in clinical practice on the basis of the best and latest available evidence.
  14. Nat Commun. 2020 Dec 04. 11(1): 6211
      Intensive chemotherapy for acute leukemia can usually induce complete remission, but fails in many patients to eradicate the leukemia stem cells responsible for relapse. There is accumulating evidence that these relapse-inducing cells are maintained and protected by signals provided by the microenvironment. Thus, inhibition of niche signals is a proposed strategy to target leukemia stem cells but this requires knowledge of the critical signals and may be subject to compensatory mechanisms. Signals from the niche require receptor-mediated endocytosis, a generic process dependent on the Dynamin family of large GTPases. Here, we show that Dynole 34-2, a potent inhibitor of Dynamin GTPase activity, can block transduction of key signalling pathways and overcome chemoresistance of leukemia stem cells. Our results provide a significant conceptual advance in therapeutic strategies for acute leukemia that may be applicable to other malignancies in which signals from the niche are involved in disease progression and chemoresistance.
  15. ChemMedChem. 2020 Dec 04.
      Signal transducers and activators of transcription 5A and 5B (STAT5A and STAT5B) are two closely related STAT family members that are crucial downstream effectors of tyrosine kinase oncoproteins such as FLT3-ITD in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and BCR-ABL in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). We recently developed and reported the synthesis of a first molecule called 17f that selectively inhibits STAT5 signaling in myeloid leukemia cells and overcomes their resistance to chemotherapeutic agents. To improve the antileukemic effect of 17f , we synthesized 10 analogs of this molecule and analyzed their impact on cell growth, survival, chemoresistance and STAT5 signaling. Two compounds, 7a and 7a' , were identified as having similar or higher antileukemic effects in various AML and CML cell lines. Both molecules were found to be more effective than 17f to inhibit STAT5 activity/expression and to suppress the chemoresistance of CML.
    Keywords:  Inhibitors; Medicinal chemistry; Myeloid Leukemias; STAT5; Suzuki coupling
  16. Semin Hematol. 2020 Oct;pii: S0037-1963(20)30043-3. [Epub ahead of print]57(4): 167-174
      Natural killer (NK) cells are potent mediators of the graft versus leukemia phenomenon critical to the success of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation. Central to calibrating NK effector function via their interaction with class I human leukocyte antigens are the numerous inhibitory killer Ig-like receptors (KIR). The KIR receptors are encoded by a family of polymorphic genes, whose expression is largely stochastic and uninfluenced by human leukocyte antigens genotype. These features provide the opportunity to select hematopoietic cell donors with favorable KIR genotypes that confer enhanced protection from relapse via NK-mediated graft versus leukemia. Over the last 2 decades, a large body of work has emerged examining the use of KIR genotyping to stratify potential donors based on anticipated NK alloreactivity. Overall, these results support KIR-based donor selection for patients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation for a diagnosis of acute myelogenous leukemia. Despite this, the underlying factors that control NK cell responsiveness are not completely understood, and opportunities remain to refine donor selection using NK cell receptor genotyping. In this review, we will summarize the relevant findings with respect to KIR genotyping as a selection parameter for allogeneic hematopoietic cell donors and address practical considerations with respect to KIR-based selection of donors for patients with myeloid neoplasia.
    Keywords:  Acute myeloid leukemia; Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation; HLA; KIR; Natural Killer Cells
  17. JCI Insight. 2020 Dec 03. pii: 140169. [Epub ahead of print]5(23):
      Effective treatment for AML is challenging due to the presence of clonal heterogeneity and the evolution of polyclonal drug resistance. Here, we report that TP-0903 has potent activity against protein kinases related to STAT, AKT, and ERK signaling, as well as cell cycle regulators in biochemical and cellular assays. In vitro and in vivo, TP-0903 was active in multiple models of drug-resistant FLT3 mutant AML, including those involving the F691L gatekeeper mutation and bone marrow microenvironment-mediated factors. Furthermore, TP-0903 demonstrated preclinical activity in AML models with FLT3-ITD and common co-occurring mutations in IDH2 and NRAS genes. We also showed that TP-0903 had ex vivo activity in primary AML cells with recurrent mutations including MLL-PTD, ASXL1, SRSF2, and WT1, which are associated with poor prognosis or promote clinical resistance to AML-directed therapies. Our preclinical studies demonstrate that TP-0903 is a multikinase inhibitor with potent activity against multiple drug-resistant models of AML that will have an immediate clinical impact in a heterogeneous disease like AML.
    Keywords:  Drug therapy; Hematology; Leukemias; Oncology
  18. Curr Opin Hematol. 2021 Jan;28(1): 50-56
      PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Myeloid malignancies comprise a spectrum of genetically heterogeneous disorders marked by the stepwise acquisition of somatic mutations and clonal evolution. The blood and bone marrow of patients typically consists of a mix of different clones and subclones along the path of clonal evolution that cannot be deconvoluted with most current approaches. Here, we review the application of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology to the study of the clonal architecture and clonal evolution of these diseases, focusing on myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia.RECENT FINDINGS: Reprogramming to pluripotency allows capture of the genomes of single somatic cells into stable iPSC lines. In addition, precise genome editing can introduce specific driver mutations, isolated, and in combinations, into normal iPSCs. Studies utilizing these approaches have elucidated the clonal composition and mutational order in patients with myeloid neoplasms. Importantly, they have also enabled functional interrogation of the cellular and molecular consequences of individual mutations and their combinations and allowed testing of the effects of drugs on distinct disease clones.
    SUMMARY: Human iPSCs are important tools to elucidate the mechanisms of progression from normal to malignant haematopoiesis and empower drug testing and drug discovery.
  19. Leuk Lymphoma. 2020 Nov 29. 1-12
      Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is usually characterized by the formation of the fusion onco-protein bcr-abl. Therefore, the majority of CML treatments are bcr-abl specific tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). TKI resistance in CML treatment is becoming a major obstacle in managing this disease. One well-studied form of drug resistance is hypoxia-induced drug resistance, a phenomenon observed in many other cancers. This study aimed to determine the efficacy of TKIs in CML cells cultured in hypoxia. It was observed that bcr-abl translation was severely halted in hypoxia, rendering TKIs ineffective. We found that the mechanism by which bcr-abl protein levels were being suppressed in hypoxia was through the mTOR pathway, specifically via ribosomal protein S6 (RPS6). This information is vital to the improvement of CML treatments, as it can be used to determine how to best combat hypoxia-induced drug resistance in CML and subsequently to identify new targets for treatment.
    Keywords:  CML; Chronic myeloid leukemia; bcr-abl; drug resistance; hypoxia
  20. Cancers (Basel). 2020 Nov 26. pii: E3520. [Epub ahead of print]12(12):
      Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) encompass a very heterogeneous group of clonal hematopoietic stem cell differentiation disorders with malignant potential and an elusive pathobiology. Given the central role of metabolism in effective differentiation, we performed an untargeted metabolomic analysis of differentiating myeloid lineage cells from MDS bone marrow aspirates that exhibited <5% (G1) or ≥5% (G2) blasts, in order to delineate its role in MDS severity and malignant potential. Bone marrow aspirates were collected from 14 previously untreated MDS patients (G1, n = 10 and G2, n = 4) and age matched controls (n = 5). Following myeloid lineage cell isolation, untargeted mass spectrometry-based metabolomics analysis was performed. Data were processed and analyzed using Metabokit. Enrichment analysis was performed using Metaboanalyst v4 employing pathway-associated metabolite sets. We established a bioenergetic profile coordinated by the Warburg phenomenon in both groups, but with a massively different outcome that mainly depended upon its group mitochondrial function and redox state. G1 cells are overwhelmed by glycolytic intermediate accumulation due to failing mitochondria, while the functional electron transport chain and improved redox in G2 compensate for Warburg disruption. Both metabolomes reveal the production and abundance of epigenetic modifiers. G1 and G2 metabolomes differ and eventually determine the MDS clinical phenotype, as well as the potential for malignant transformation.
    Keywords:  Warburg effect; acute myeloid leukemia; epigenetics; metabolomics; mitochondria; mitochondrial uncoupling; myelodysplastic syndrome; redox; redox ratios
  21. Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program. 2020 Dec 04. 2020(1): 135-139
      Patients with hematologic malignancies are at increased risk of infection, with associated morbidity and mortality. Patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have qualitative and quantitative deficits in granulocytes predisposing to bacterial and fungal infections. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia results in qualitative deficits in lymphocytes, resulting in hypogammaglobulinemia and reduced cell-mediated immunity predisposing to certain bacterial and viral as well as fungal infections. Chemotherapeutic regimens often compound these deficits, result in prolonged periods of severe neutropenia, and disrupt mucosal barriers, further elevating infection risk. Despite advances in antimicrobial therapies and prophylaxis, acute leukemia patients with disease- and treatment-related immunosuppression remain at risk for life-threatening infection, including with resistant organisms, antimicrobial-related adverse events, and higher treatment costs. Additionally, our knowledge of infection risk and drug-drug interactions with new immune-targeted cancer therapeutics is evolving. Here, we review 3 areas in which standard practice is evolving as challenges arise and new experience is gained, including antibiotic use in febrile neutropenia, fungal prophylaxis, and use of targeted therapies.
  22. PLoS One. 2020 ;15(11): e0242809
      The bone marrow microenvironment (BME) in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) consists of various cell types that support the growth of AML cells and protect them from chemotherapy. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) in the BME have been shown to contribute immensely to leukemogenesis and chemotherapy resistance in AML cells. However, the mechanism of stroma-induced chemotherapy resistance is not known. Here, we hypothesized that stromal cells promote a stem-like phenotype in AML cells, thereby inducing tumorigenecity and therapy resistance. To test our hypothesis, we co-cultured AML cell lines and patient samples with BM-derived MSCs and determined aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity and performed gene expression profiling by RNA sequencing. We found that the percentage of ALDH+ cells increased dramatically when AML cells were co-cultured with MSCs. However, among the 19 ALDH isoforms, ALDH2 and ALDH1L2 were the only two that were significantly upregulated in AML cells co-cultured with stromal cells compared to cells cultured alone. Mechanistic studies revealed that the transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1)-regulated gene signature is activated in AML cells co-cultured with MSCs. Knockdown of TGF-β1 in BM-MSCs inhibited stroma-induced ALDH activity and ALDH2 expression in AML cells, whereas treatment with recombinant TGF-β1 induced the ALDH+ phenotype in AML cells. We also found that TGF-β1-induced ALDH2 expression in AML cells is mediated by the non-canonical pathway through the activation of p38. Interestingly, inhibition of ALDH2 with diadzin and CVT-10216 significantly inhibited MSC-induced ALDH activity in AML cells and sensitized them to chemotherapy, even in the presence of MSCs. Collectively, BM stroma induces ALDH2 activity in AML cells through the non-canonical TGF-β pathway. Inhibition of ALDH2 sensitizes AML cells to chemotherapy.
  23. Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program. 2020 Dec 04. 2020(1): 57-66
      The recent advent of myriad targeted therapies for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) has led to new hope for our patients but has also introduced new challenges in managing the disease. For clinicians, the ability to treat AML in the outpatient setting with novel agents of equal or greater efficacy than 7+3 has been transformative. Despite the enthusiasm, however, the reality is that many patients are still frail and remain at risk for treatment-related complications. Translating the results of clinical trials into improved outcomes for these individuals requires an understanding of how best to manage the adverse effects of these agents. Which patients benefit most and what to watch for? When to stop therapy? Using illustrative case presentations, this review details the unique toxicities associated with each of the approved mutation-specific and nonspecific targeted drugs for AML. The goal of this review is to help clinicians determine the risk:benefit ratio in decision making for individual patients with AML.
  24. Cell Rep. 2020 Dec 01. pii: S2211-1247(20)31433-9. [Epub ahead of print]33(9): 108444
      Concurrent loss-of-function mutations in STK11 and KEAP1 in lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) are associated with aggressive tumor growth, resistance to available therapies, and early death. We investigated the effects of coordinate STK11 and KEAP1 loss by comparing co-mutant with single mutant and wild-type isogenic counterparts in multiple LUAD models. STK11/KEAP1 co-mutation results in significantly elevated expression of ferroptosis-protective genes, including SCD and AKR1C1/2/3, and resistance to pharmacologically induced ferroptosis. CRISPR screening further nominates SCD (SCD1) as selectively essential in STK11/KEAP1 co-mutant LUAD. Genetic and pharmacological inhibition of SCD1 confirms the essentiality of this gene and augments the effects of ferroptosis induction by erastin and RSL3. Together these data identify SCD1 as a selective vulnerability and a promising candidate for targeted drug development in STK11/KEAP1 co-mutant LUAD.
    Keywords:  AKR1C1; CRISPR; KEAP1; LKB1; NSCLC; SCD1; STK11; ferroptosis
  25. Haematologica. 2020 May 21. 105(12): 2785-2794
      Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of clonal myeloid disorders characterized by cytopenia and a propensity to develop acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The management of lower-risk (LR) MDS with persistent cytopenias remains suboptimal. Eltrombopag (EPAG), a thrombopoietin receptor agonist, can improve platelet counts in LR-MDS and tri-lineage hematopoiesis in aplastic anemia (AA). We conducted a phase 2 dose modification study to investigate the safety and efficacy of EPAG in LR-MDS. EPAG dose was escalated from 50 mg/day, to a maximum of 150 mg/day over a period of 16 weeks. The primary efficacy endpoint was hematologic response at 16-20 weeks. Eleven of 25 (44%) patients responded; five and six patients had uni- or bi-lineage hematologic responses, respectively. The predictors of response were presence of a PNH clone, marrow hypocellularity, thrombocytopenia with or without other cytopenia, and elevated plasma thrombopoietin levels at study entry. The safety profile was consistent with previous EPAG studies in AA; no patients discontinued drug due to adverse events. Three patients developed reversible grade-3 liver toxicity and one patient had increased reticulin fibrosis. Ten patients discontinued EPAG after achieving a robust response (median time 16 months); four of them reinitiated EPAG due to declining counts, and all attained a second robust response. Six patients had disease progression not associated with expansion of mutated clones and no patient progressed to AML on study. In conclusion, EPAG was well-tolerated and effective in restoring hematopoiesis in patients with low to intermediate-1 risk MDS. This study was registered at as #NCT00932156.