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Blood. 2014 Oct 30;124(18):2834-46. doi: 10.1182/blood-2013-07-517219. Epub 2014 Aug 18.

Inhibition of leukemia cell engraftment and disease progression in mice by osteoblasts.

Author information

Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY;
Department of Reconstructive Sciences, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT;
Department of Pathology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY;
Myelodysplastic Syndromes Center and.
Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY;
Regional Bone Center, Helen Hayes Hospital, West Haverstraw, New York, NY;
Amgen Inc., Seattle, WA;
Bone and Cartilage Biology Group, Genome Engineering Technologies Group, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., Tarrytown, NY;
Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY;
Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, and.
Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY.


The bone marrow niche is thought to act as a permissive microenvironment required for emergence or progression of hematologic cancers. We hypothesized that osteoblasts, components of the niche involved in hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) function, influence the fate of leukemic blasts. We show that osteoblast numbers decrease by 55% in myelodysplasia and acute myeloid leukemia patients. Further, genetic depletion of osteoblasts in mouse models of acute leukemia increased circulating blasts and tumor engraftment in the marrow and spleen leading to higher tumor burden and shorter survival. Myelopoiesis increased and was coupled with a reduction in B lymphopoiesis and compromised erythropoiesis, suggesting that hematopoietic lineage/progression was altered. Treatment of mice with acute myeloid or lymphoblastic leukemia with a pharmacologic inhibitor of the synthesis of duodenal serotonin, a hormone suppressing osteoblast numbers, inhibited loss of osteoblasts. Maintenance of the osteoblast pool restored normal marrow function, reduced tumor burden, and prolonged survival. Leukemia prevention was attributable to maintenance of osteoblast numbers because inhibition of serotonin receptors alone in leukemic blasts did not affect leukemia progression. These results suggest that osteoblasts play a fundamental role in propagating leukemia in the marrow and may be a therapeutic target to induce hostility of the niche to leukemia blasts.

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