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Blood. 1992 Aug 1;80(3):750-7.

Effect of mast cell growth factor (c-kit ligand) on clonogenic leukemic precursor cells.

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Department of Hematology, University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Mast cell growth factor (MGF), the ligand for the c-kit receptor, has been shown to be a hematopoietic growth factor that preferentially stimulates the proliferation of immature hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPC). We studied the effect of MGF on the in vitro growth of clonogenic leukemic precursor cells in the presence or absence of interleukin-3 (IL-3), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and/or erythropoietin (EPO). Leukemic blood and bone marrow cells from patients with various types of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in chronic phase, as well as bone marrow samples from patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) were studied. MGF as a single factor did not induce significant colony formation by clonogenic leukemic precursor cells. In the presence of IL-3 and/or GM-CSF, MGF weakly stimulated the colony formation by clonogenic precursor cells from patients with AML. In contrast, in the presence of IL-3 and/or GM-CSF, MGF strongly induced both size and number of leukemic colonies from patients with CML in chronic phase. Furthermore, in the presence of EPO, MGF strongly stimulated erythroid colony formation by CML precursor cells. Cytogenetic analysis of the colonies showed that all metaphases after 1 week of culture were derived from the leukemic clone. In patients with MDS, MGF strongly stimulated myeloid colony formation in the presence of IL-3 and/or GM-CSF (up to fourfold), and erythroid colony formation in the presence of EPO (up to eightfold). Not only the number, but also the size of the colonies increased. In the presence of MGF, the percentage of normal metaphases increased in three patients tested after 1 week of culture compared with the initial suspension, suggesting that the normal HPC were preferentially stimulated compared with the preleukemic precursor cells. In the absence of exogenous EPO and in the presence of 10% human AB serum, MGF in the presence of IL-3 and/or GM-CSF induced erythroid colony formation from normal bone marrow and patients with MDS or CML, illustrating that MGF greatly diminished the EPO requirement for erythroid differentiation. These results indicate that MGF may be a candidate as a hematopoietic growth factor to stimulate normal hematopoiesis in patients with acute myeloid leukemia, or with myelodysplastic syndromes.

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