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Haematologica. 2012 Apr;97(4):608-15. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2011.052779. Epub 2011 Nov 4.

AMD3100 disrupts the cross-talk between chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells and a mesenchymal stromal or nurse-like cell-based microenvironment: pre-clinical evidence for its association with chronic lymphocytic leukemia treatments.

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  • 1Université Libre de Bruxelles, Institut Jules Bordet, Laboratoire de Thérapie Cellulaire Clinique (LTCC), Boulevard de Waterloo 121, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium.



Interactions with the microenvironment, such as bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells and nurse-like cells, protect chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells from spontaneous and drug-induced apoptosis. This protection is partially mediated by the chemokine SDF-1α (CXCL12) and its receptor CXCR4 (CD184) present on the chronic lymphocytic leukemia cell surface.


Here, we investigated the ability of AMD3100, a CXCR4 antagonist, to sensitize chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells to chemotherapy in a chronic lymphocytic leukemia/mesenchymal stromal cell based or nurse-like cell based microenvironment co-culture model.


AMD3100 decreased CXCR4 expression signal (n=15, P=0.0078) and inhibited actin polymerization/migration in response to SDF-1α (n=8, P<0.01) and pseudoemperipolesis (n=10, P=0.0010), suggesting that AMD3100 interferes with chronic lymphocytic leukemia cell trafficking. AMD3100 did not have a direct effect on apoptosis when chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells were cultured alone (n=10, P=0.8812). However, when they were cultured with SDF-1α, mesenchymal stromal cells or nurse-like cells (protecting them from apoptosis, P<0.001), chronic lymphocytic leukemia cell pre-treatment with AMD3100 significantly inhibited these protective effects (n=8, P<0.01) and decreased the expression of the anti-apoptotic proteins MCL-1 and FLIP. Furthermore, combining AMD3100 with various drugs (fludarabine, cladribine, valproïc acid, bortezomib, flavopiridol, methylprednisolone) in our mesenchymal stromal cell co-culture model enhanced drug-induced apoptosis (n=8, P<0.05) indicating that AMD3100 could mobilize chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells away from their protective microenvironment, making them more accessible to conventional therapies.


Taken together, these data demonstrate that interfering with the SDF-1α/CXCR4 axis by using AMD3100 inhibited chronic lymphocytic leukemia cell trafficking and microenvironment-mediated protective effects. Combining AMD3100 with other drugs may, therefore, represent a promising therapeutic approach to kill chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells.

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