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Leukemia. 2002 Apr;16(4):559-62.

Unique molecular and cellular features of acute myelogenous leukemia stem cells.

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  • 1Division of Hematology/Oncology, Markey Cancer Center, University of Kentucky Medical Center, Lexington, KY 40536, USA.


It is well known in the field of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) that many different translocations and genetic aberrancies are found with the various forms of the disease. Indeed, specific translocations are often associated with disease subtypes that manifest themselves through the accumulation of immature myeloid cells at varying stages of differentiation. Moreover, the differentiation state of myeloid blast populations has been utilized as a means of categorizing different AML subtypes (French, American, British, or FAB classification system). Thus, the notion that AML is a family of related but distinct diseases is a common view. Interestingly, however, studies in recent years that have formalized the concept of a leukemic stem cell (LSC) have also begun to define shared developmental, cellular and molecular features amongst the malignant stem cells that give rise to different AML subtypes. Moreover, some of these conserved features appear to be unique to the leukemia stem/progenitor cell population, and are not found in normal hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). This article will summarize data emerging from the study of LSCs and suggest how distinct molecular and cellular characteristics of the LSC population may provide new opportunities for AML therapy.

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