bims-almceb Biomed News
on Acute Leukemia Metabolism and Cell Biology
Issue of 2021‒11‒28
eleven papers selected by
Camila Kehl Dias
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul

  1. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 756888
      The subpopulation of cancer stem cells (CSCs) within tumor bulk are known for tumor recurrence and metastasis. CSCs show intrinsic resistance to conventional therapies and phenotypic plasticity within the tumor, which make these a difficult target for conventional therapies. CSCs have different metabolic phenotypes based on their needs as compared to the bulk cancer cells. CSCs show metabolic plasticity and constantly alter their metabolic state between glycolysis and oxidative metabolism (OXPHOS) to adapt to scarcity of nutrients and therapeutic stress. The metabolic characteristics of CSCs are distinct compared to non-CSCs and thus provide an opportunity to devise more effective strategies to target CSCs. Mechanism for metabolic switch in CSCs is still unravelled, however existing evidence suggests that tumor microenvironment affects the metabolic phenotype of cancer cells. Understanding CSCs metabolism may help in discovering new and effective clinical targets to prevent cancer relapse and metastasis. This review summarises the current knowledge of CSCs metabolism and highlights the potential targeted treatment strategies.
    Keywords:  OxPhos; cancer stem cell; glucose; glutamine; metabolism
  2. Cells. 2021 Oct 21. pii: 2833. [Epub ahead of print]10(11):
      Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a heterogeneous disease with a poor prognosis and remarkable resistance to chemotherapeutic agents. Understanding resistance mechanisms against currently available drugs helps to recognize the therapeutic obstacles. Various mechanisms of resistance to chemotherapy or targeted inhibitors have been described for AML cells, including a role for the bone marrow niche in both the initiation and persistence of the disease, and in drug resistance of the leukemic stem cell (LSC) population. The BM niche supports LSC survival through direct and indirect interactions among the stromal cells, hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, and leukemic cells. Additionally, the BM niche mediates changes in metabolic and signal pathway activation due to the acquisition of new mutations or selection and expansion of a minor clone. This review briefly discusses the role of the BM microenvironment and metabolic pathways in resistance to therapy, as discovered through AML clinical studies or cell line and animal models.
    Keywords:  acute myeloid leukemia; bone marrow microenvironment; drug resistance; leukemic stem cell
  3. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 26. 12(1): 6936
      Chemoresistance posts a major hurdle for treatment of acute leukemia. There is increasing evidence that prolonged and intensive chemotherapy often fails to eradicate leukemic stem cells, which are protected by the bone marrow niche and can induce relapse. Thus, new therapeutic approaches to overcome chemoresistance are urgently needed. By conducting an ex vivo small molecule screen, here we have identified Quinacrine (QC) as a sensitizer for Cytarabine (AraC) in treating acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). We show that QC enhances AraC-mediated killing of ALL cells, and subsequently abrogates AraC resistance both in vitro and in an ALL-xenograft model. However, while combo AraC+QC treatment prolongs the survival of primary transplanted recipients, the combination exhibits limited efficacy in secondary transplanted recipients, consistent with the survival of niche-protected leukemia stem cells. Introduction of Cdc42 Activity Specific Inhibitor, CASIN, enhances the eradication of ALL leukemia stem cells by AraC+QC and prolongs the survival of both primary and secondary transplanted recipients without affecting normal long-term human hematopoiesis. Together, our findings identify a small-molecule regimen that sensitizes AraC-mediated leukemia eradication and provide a potential therapeutic approach for better ALL treatment.
  4. Biomolecules. 2021 Nov 10. pii: 1666. [Epub ahead of print]11(11):
      A better understanding of the metabolic constraints of a tumor may lead to more effective anticancer treatments. Evidence has emerged in recent years shedding light on a crucial aspartate dependency of many tumor types. As a precursor for nucleotide synthesis, aspartate is indispensable for cell proliferation. Moreover, the malate-aspartate shuttle plays a key role in redox balance, and a deficit in aspartate can lead to oxidative stress. It is now recognized that aspartate biosynthesis is largely governed by mitochondrial metabolism, including respiration and glutaminolysis in cancer cells. Therefore, under conditions that suppress mitochondrial metabolism, including mutations, hypoxia, or chemical inhibitors, aspartate can become a limiting factor for tumor growth and cancer cell survival. Notably, aspartate availability has been associated with sensitivity or resistance to various therapeutics that are presently in the clinic or in clinical trials, arguing for a critical need for more effective aspartate-targeting approaches. In this review, we present current knowledge of the metabolic roles of aspartate in cancer cells and describe how cancer cells maintain aspartate levels under different metabolic states. We also highlight several promising aspartate level-modulating agents that are currently under investigation.
    Keywords:  GOT1; alpha-ketoglutarate; asparagine; aspartate; cancer metabolism; glutaminase; hypoxia; mitochondrial DNA mutation; mitochondrial respiration; oxidative phosphorylation
  5. Antioxidants (Basel). 2021 Nov 19. pii: 1838. [Epub ahead of print]10(11):
      Mitochondrial redox metabolism is the central component in the cellular metabolic landscape, where anabolic and catabolic pathways are reprogrammed to maintain optimum redox homeostasis. During different stages of cancer, the mitochondrial redox status plays an active role in navigating cancer cells' progression and regulating metabolic adaptation according to the constraints of each stage. Mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation induces malignant transformation. Once vigorous cell proliferation renders the core of the solid tumor hypoxic, the mitochondrial electron transport chain mediates ROS signaling for bringing about cellular adaptation to hypoxia. Highly aggressive cells are selected in this process, which are capable of progressing through the enhanced oxidative stress encountered during different stages of metastasis for distant colonization. Mitochondrial oxidative metabolism is suppressed to lower ROS generation, and the overall cellular metabolism is reprogrammed to maintain the optimum NADPH level in the mitochondria required for redox homeostasis. After reaching the distant organ, the intrinsic metabolic limitations of that organ dictate the success of colonization and flexibility of the mitochondrial metabolism of cancer cells plays a pivotal role in their adaptation to the new environment.
    Keywords:  ROS signaling; distant colonization; metastasis; mitochondrial redox metabolism; tumor development
  6. Leuk Lymphoma. 2021 Nov 25. 1-10
      Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an aggressive hematologic malignancy with a dismal prognosis. Immunotherapeutic approaches using single agent checkpoint inhibitors have thus far shown limited success. We hypothesized that successful adaptive anti-AML specific immune responses require additional modulation of innate immunity. DMXAA exposure resulted in modest apoptosis of C1498 AML cells with a subtle increase in PD-L1 expression and limited production of IL-6 and IFN-β. In contrast, DMXAA + anti-PD-1 ab, but not either agent alone, significantly decreased in vivo disease burden and prolonged overall survival in C1498 engrafted leukemic mice. Combination-treated mice demonstrated increased memory T-cells and mature dendritic cells, lower numbers of regulatory T-cells and evidence of leukemia apoptosis. Furthermore, these effects were associated with markedly increased serum levels of type I interferon (IFN) and IFN gamma. We demonstrate that combining an innate immune agonist with a checkpoint inhibitor synergistically improved anti-tumor activity in a preclinical AML model.
    Keywords:  AML; Immunotherapy; PD-1; checkpoint inhibitor; innate immune agonist
  7. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Nov 20. pii: 5822. [Epub ahead of print]13(22):
      Leukemia stem cells (LSCs, also known as leukemia-initiating cells) not only drive leukemia initiation and progression, but also contribute to drug resistance and/or disease relapse. Therefore, eradication of every last LSC is critical for a patient's long-term cure. Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a myeloproliferative disorder that arises from multipotent hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have dramatically improved long-term outcomes and quality of life for patients with CML in the chronic phase. Point mutations of the kinase domain of BCR-ABL1 lead to TKI resistance through a reduction in drug binding, and as a result, several new generations of TKIs have been introduced to the clinic. Some patients develop TKI resistance without known mutations, however, and the presence of LSCs is believed to be at least partially associated with resistance development and CML relapse. We previously proposed targeting quiescent LSCs as a therapeutic approach to CML, and a number of potential strategies for targeting insensitive LSCs have been presented over the last decade. The identification of specific markers distinguishing CML-LSCs from healthy HSCs, and the potential contributions of the bone marrow microenvironment to CML pathogenesis, have also been explored. Nonetheless, 25% of CML patients are still expected to switch TKIs at least once, and various TKI discontinuation studies have shown a wide range in the incidence of molecular relapse (from 30% to 60%). In this review, we revisit the current knowledge regarding the role(s) of LSCs in CML leukemogenesis and response to pharmacological treatment and explore how durable treatment-free remission may be achieved and maintained after discontinuing TKI treatment.
    Keywords:  chronic myeloid leukemia; leukemia stem cell; metabolic regulation; microenvironment
  8. FEBS J. 2021 Nov 25.
      Fatty acids not only are a key component of cellular membrane structure, but also have diverse functions in biological processes. Recent years have seen great advances in understanding of how fatty acid metabolism contributes to adaptive immune response. Here, we review 3 key processes, fatty acid biosynthesis, fatty acid oxidation and fatty acid uptake, and how they direct T and B cell functions during immune challenges. Then we will focus on the relationship between microbiota derived fatty acids, short-chain fatty acids, and adaptive immunity. Along the way, we will also discuss the outstanding controversies and challenges in the field.
    Keywords:  B cells; Fatty acid; T cells; Treg; germinal center; memory; mitochondrial; oxidation
  9. Leuk Res. 2021 Nov 16. pii: S0145-2126(21)01752-5. [Epub ahead of print]112 106751
      Acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML) is one of the most common types of blood malignancies that results in an AML-associated high mortality rate each year. Several causes have been reported as prognostic factors for AML in children and adults, the most important of which are cytogenetic abnormalities and environmental risk factors. Following the discovery of numerous drugs for AML treatment, leukemic cells sought a way to escape from the cytotoxic effects of chemotherapy drugs, leading to treatment failure. Nowadays, comprehensive studies have looked at the role of extracellular vesicles (EVs) secreted by AML blasts and how the microenvironment of the tumor changes in favor of cancer progression and survival to discover the mechanisms of treatment failure to choose the well-advised treatment. Reports show that malignant cells secrete EVs that transmit messages to adjacent cells and the tumor's microenvironment. By secreting EVs, containing immune-inhibiting cytokines, AML cells inactivate the immune system against malignant cells, thus ensuring their survival. Also, increased secretion of EVs in various malignancies indicates an unfavorable prognostic factor and the possibility of drug resistance. In this study, we briefly reviewed the challenges of treating AML with a glance at the EVs' role in this process. It is hoped that with a deeper understanding of EVs, new therapies will be developed to eliminate the relapse of leukemic cells.
    Keywords:  Acute myeloblastic leukemia; Drug resistance; Exosome; Extracellular vesicle; Microvesicle; Treatment failure
  10. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 24. 12(1): 6831
      Exhausted CD8+ T cells are key targets of immune checkpoint blockade therapy and their ineffective reinvigoration limits the durable benefit in some cancer patients. Here, we demonstrate that histone demethylase LSD1 acts to enforce an epigenetic program in progenitor exhausted CD8+ T cells to antagonize the TCF1-mediated progenitor maintenance and to promote terminal differentiation. Consequently, genetic perturbation or small molecules targeting LSD1 increases the persistence of the progenitor exhausted CD8+ T cells, which provide a sustained source for the proliferative conversion to numerically larger terminally exhausted T cells with tumor-killing cytotoxicity, thereby leading to effective and durable responses to anti-PD1 therapy. Collectively, our findings provide important insights into epigenetic mechanisms that regulate T cell exhaustion and have important implications for durable immunotherapy.
  11. Am J Blood Res. 2021 ;11(5): 534-543
      BACKGROUND: Mitochondrial bioenergetic alterations are commonly observed metabolic adaptation in malignancies including acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Mitochondrial DNA alterations are well known in pediatric AML with possible prognostic significance; however, mitochondrial complex activity and its impact on disease outcome have not been previously explored. The aim of this study was to evaluate the mitochondrial complex II and complex V activity and its prognostic significance in pediatric AML patients.METHODS: Consecutive 82 de novo pediatric (≤18 years) patients with AML were included in the study along with age and sex matched controls. Bone marrow mononuclear cells were isolated from baseline bone marrow samples from all patients and controls. DNA, RNA and proteins were extracted and relative expression of mitochondrial biogenesis genes TFAM, POLG, POLRMT were estimated along with mitochondrial DNA copy number. The mitochondrial complex II and V enzymes were immunocaptured and their activity was measured by substrate specific absorbance change by kinetic ELISA. The mitochondrial complex II and V activity was compared with controls and their association with clinico-pathological features and survival outcome were analysed. Complex activity was also correlated with relative expression of biogenesis genes.
    RESULTS: The activity of mitochondrial complex II and V were found to be significantly enhanced (P = 0.010 and P = 0.0013 respectively) in pediatric AML patients compared to controls. The activity of mitochondrial complex II and V showed significant positive correlation with relative gene expression of mitochondrial biogenesis genes TFAM (P = 0.001 and P = 0.016 respectively) and POLG (P = 0.005 and P = 0.006 respectively). Neither of the two complex activities showed any significant association with baseline disease demographics or any clinico-pathological feature. Furthermore, the complex II and V activity did not show any impact on event free survival (P = 0.25 and P = 0.24 respectively) and overall survival (P = 0.14 and P = 0.17 respectively) in our cohort.
    CONCLUSION: The activity of both mitochondrial complex II and V are significantly elevated in bone marrow mononuclear cells of children with AML compared to controls. The enhanced activity may be related to upregulation of mitochondrial biogenesis genes TFAM and POLG. The enhanced activity of either of the complexes did not impact disease biology or survival outcomes in pediatric AML.
    Keywords:  ATP synthase; Acute myeloid leukemia; children; mitochondria; mitochondrial biogenesis; mitochondrial complex activity; outcome; pediatric; succinate dehydrogenase; survival