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2.  Notch pathway inhibition controls myeloma bone disease in the murine MOPC315.BM model 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(6):e217-.
Despite evidence that deregulated Notch signalling is a master regulator of multiple myeloma (MM) pathogenesis, its contribution to myeloma bone disease remains to be resolved. Notch promotes survival of human MM cells and triggers human osteoclast activity in vitro. Here, we show that inhibition of Notch through the γ-secretase inhibitor XII (GSI XII) induces apoptosis of murine MOPC315.BM myeloma cells with high Notch activity. GSI XII impairs murine osteoclast differentiation of receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL)-stimulated RAW264.7 cells in vitro. In the murine MOPC315.BM myeloma model GSI XII has potent anti-MM activity and reduces osteolytic lesions as evidenced by diminished myeloma-specific monoclonal immunoglobulin (Ig)-A serum levels and quantitative assessment of bone structure changes via high-resolution microcomputed tomography scans. Thus, we suggest that Notch inhibition through GSI XII controls myeloma bone disease mainly by targeting Notch in MM cells and possibly in osteoclasts in their microenvironment. We conclude that Notch inhibition is a valid therapeutic strategy in MM.
PMCID: PMC4080208  PMID: 24927406
3.  The novel immunotoxin HM1.24-ETA′ induces apoptosis in multiple myeloma cells 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(6):e219-.
Despite new treatment modalities, the clinical outcome in a substantial number of patients with multiple myeloma (MM) has yet to be improved. Antibody-based targeted therapies for myeloma patients could make use of the HM1.24 antigen (CD317), a surface molecule overexpressed on malignant plasma cells and efficiently internalized. Here, a novel immunotoxin, HM1.24-ETA′, is described. HM1.24-ETA′ was generated by genetic fusion of a CD317-specific single-chain Fv (scFv) antibody and a truncated variant of Pseudomonas aeruginosa exotoxin A (ETA′). HM1.24-ETA′ inhibited growth of interleukin 6 (IL-6)-dependent and -independent myeloma cell lines. Half-maximal growth inhibition was observed at concentrations as low as 0.3 nM. Target cell killing occurred via induction of apoptosis and was unaffected in co-culture experiments with bone marrow stromal cells. HM1.24-ETA′ efficiently triggered apoptosis of freshly isolated/cryopreserved cells of patients with plasma cell leukemia and MM and was active in a preclinical severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mouse xenograft model. Importantly, HM1.24-ETA′ was not cytotoxic against CD317-positive cells from healthy tissue (monocytes, human umbilical vein endothelial cells). These results indicate that CD317 may represent a promising target structure for specific and efficient immunotoxin therapy for patients with plasma cell tumors.
PMCID: PMC4080209  PMID: 24927408
4.  Distribution and levels of cell surface expression of CD33 and CD123 in acute myeloid leukemia 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(6):e218-.
Owing to the more recent positive results with the anti-CD33 immunotoxin gemtuzumab ozogamicin, therapy against acute myeloid leukemias (AMLs) targeting CD33 holds many promises. Here, CD33 and CD123 expression on AML blasts was studied by flow cytometry in a cohort of 319 patients with detailed information on French–American–British/World Health Organization (FAB/WHO) classification, cytogenetics and molecular aberrations. AMLs of 87.8% express CD33 and would therefore be targetable with anti-CD33 therapies. Additionally, 9.4% of AMLs express CD123 without concomitant CD33 expression. Thus, nearly all AMLs could be either targeted via CD33 or CD123. Simultaneous presence of both antigens was observed in 69.5% of patients. Most importantly, even AMLs with adverse cytogenetics express CD33 and CD123 levels comparable to those with favorable and intermediate subtypes. Some patient groups with unfavorable alterations, such as FMS-related tyrosine kinase 3-internal tandem duplication (FLT3-ITD) mutations, high FLT3-ITD mutant/wild-type ratios and monosomy 5 are even characterized by high expression of CD33 and CD123. In addition, blasts of patients with mutant nucleophosmin (NPM1) revealed significantly higher CD33 and CD123 expression pointing toward the possibility of minimal residual disease-guided interventions in mutated NPM1-positive AMLs. These results stimulate the development of novel concepts to redirect immune effector cells toward CD33- and CD123-expressing blasts using bi-specific antibodies or engineered T cells expressing chimeric antigen receptors.
PMCID: PMC4080210  PMID: 24927407
5.  Helicobacter pylori-related diffuse large B-cell lymphoma of the stomach: a distinct entity with lower aggressiveness and higher chemosensitivity 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(6):e220-.
We recently showed that Helicobacter pylori (HP)-positive gastric ‘pure' diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) may respond to HP eradication therapy. However, whether these HP-related ‘pure' DLBCL of the stomach may differ fundamentally from those unrelated to HP remains unclear. In this study, we compared the clinicopathologic features of these two groups of patients who had been uniformly treated by conventional chemotherapy. Forty-six patients were designated HP-positive and 49 were HP-negative by conventional criteria. HP-positive patients had a lower International Prognostic Index score (0–1, 65% vs 43%, P=0.029), a lower clinical stage (I-IIE1, 70% vs 39%, P=0.003), a better tumor response to chemotherapy (complete pathologic response, 76% vs 47%, P=0.004) and significantly superior 5-year event-free survival (EFS) (71.7% vs 31.8%, P<0.001) and overall survival (OS) (76.1% vs 39.8%, P<0.001). To draw a closer biologic link with HP, HP-positive tumors were further examined for CagA expression in lymphoma cells. Compared with CagA-negative cases (n=16), CagA-positive cases (n=27) were associated with high phosphorylated SHP-2 expression (P=0.016), and even better 5-year EFS (85.2% vs 46.3%, P=0.002) and OS (88.9% vs 52.9%, P=0.003). HP-related gastric ‘pure' DLBCL may be a distinct tumor entity, which is less aggressive, and responds better to conventional chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC4080211  PMID: 24949857
6.  MicroRNA expression patterns in medullary and extramedullary plasmacytoma 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(6):e223-.
PMCID: PMC4080212  PMID: 24972152
8.  JAK2V617F mRNA metabolism in myeloproliferative neoplasm cell lines 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(6):e222-.
PMCID: PMC4080214  PMID: 24972151
9.  TALEN-mediated genetic tailoring as a tool to analyze the function of acquired mutations in multiple myeloma cells 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(5):e210-.
Multiple myeloma (MM) is a clonal plasma cell malignancy that is initiated by a number of mutations and the process of disease progression is characterized by further acquisition of mutations. The identification and functional characterization of these myelomagenic mutations is necessary to better understand the underlying pathogenic mechanisms in this disease. Recent advancements in next-generation sequencing have made the identification of most of these mutations a reality. However, the functional characterization of these mutations has been hampered by the lack of proper and efficient tools to dissect these mutations. Here we explored the possible utility of transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN) genome engineering technology to tailoring the genome of MM cells. To test this possibility, we targeted the HPRT1 gene and found that TALENs are a very robust and efficient genome-editing tool in MM cells. Using cotransfected green fluorescent protein as an enrichment marker, single-cell subclones with desirable TALEN modifications in the HPRT1 gene were obtained in as little as 3–4 weeks of time. We believe that TALENs will greatly facilitate the functional study of somatic mutations in MM as well as other cancers.
PMCID: PMC4042302  PMID: 24813078
11.  The role of front-line anthracycline-containing chemotherapy regimens in peripheral T-cell lymphomas 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(5):e214-.
Peripheral T-cell lymphomas (PTCLs) are a heterogenous group of aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphomas that are incurable in the majority of patients with current therapies. Outcomes associated with anthracycline-based therapies are suboptimal, but remain the standard of care for most patients, even though the benefits of this approach remain uncertain. This study retrospectively examined outcomes in a cohort of North American PTCL patients treated with both anthracycline- and nonanthracycline-containing regimens. The incorporation of anthracycline-containing regimens was associated with improved progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). Patients treated with nonanthracycline-containing regimens were more likely to have high-risk features and were less likely to undergo high-dose therapy and stem cell transplantation. However, anthracycline use remained an independent predictor of improved PFS and OS when adjusting for these confounding variables. Anthracycline-based regimens and consolidation with high-dose therapy and autologous stem cell transplantation in appropriately selected patients remains a viable option for patients unable to participate in a clinical trial. Long-term disease-free survival is not optimal, highlighting the need for an improved understanding of disease pathogenesis, and the development of novel therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC4042304  PMID: 24879115
14.  Copy-neutral loss of heterozygosity is prevalent and a late event in the pathogenesis of FLT3/ITD AML 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(5):e208-.
Patients with high FLT3 internal tandem duplication allelic ratios (FLT3/ITD-ARs) have a poor prognosis. Single-nucleotide polymorphism/comparative genomic hybridization, single-cell PCR and colony-forming assays were used to evaluate genotypic evolution of high FLT3/ITD-ARs in 85 acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. Microarrays were used to examine molecular pathways disrupted in leukemic blasts with high FLT3/ITD-ARs. Copy-neutral loss of heterozygosity (CN-LOH) was identified at the FLT3 locus in diagnostic samples with high FLT3/ITD-ARs (N=11), but not in samples with low FLT3/ITD-ARs (N=24), FLT3-activating loop mutations (N=11) or wild-type FLT3 (N=39). Single-cell assays showed that homozygous FLT3/ITD genotype was present in subsets of leukemic blasts at diagnosis but became the dominant clone at relapse. Less differentiated CD34+/CD33− progenitor colonies were heterozygous for FLT3/ITD, whereas more differentiated CD34+/CD33+ progenitor colonies were homozygous for FLT3/ITD. Expression profiling revealed that samples harboring high FLT3/ITD-ARs aberrantly expressed genes within the recombination/DNA repair pathway. Thus, the development of CN-LOH at the FLT3 locus, which results in high FLT3/ITD-ARs, likely represents a late genomic event that occurs after the acquisition of the FLT3/ITD. Although the etiology underlying the development of CN-LOH remains to be clarified, the disruption in recombination/DNA repair pathway, which is present before the development of LOH, may have a role.
PMCID: PMC4042297  PMID: 24786392
15.  T-cell receptor Vβ skewing frequently occurs in refractory cytopenia of childhood and is associated with an expansion of effector cytotoxic T cells: a prospective study by EWOG-MDS 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(5):e209-.
Immunosuppressive therapy (IST), consisting of antithymocyte globulin and cyclosporine A, is effective in refractory cytopenia of childhood (RCC), suggesting that, similar to low-grade myelodysplastic syndromes in adult patients, T lymphocytes are involved in suppressing hematopoiesis in a subset of RCC patients. However, the potential role of a T-cell-mediated pathophysiology in RCC remains poorly explored. In a cohort of 92 RCC patients, we prospectively assessed the frequency of T-cell receptor (TCR) β-chain variable (Vβ) domain skewing in bone marrow and peripheral blood by heteroduplex PCR, and analyzed T-cell subsets in peripheral blood by flow cytometry. TCRVβ skewing was present in 40% of RCC patients. TCRVβ skewing did not correlate with bone marrow cellularity, karyotype, transfusion history, HLA-DR15 or the presence of a PNH clone. In 28 patients treated with IST, TCRVβ skewing was not clearly related with treatment response. However, TCRVβ skewing did correlate with a disturbed CD4+/CD8+ T-cell ratio, a reduction in naive CD8+ T cells, an expansion of effector CD8+ T cells and an increase in activated CD8+ T cells (defined as HLA-DR+, CD57+ or CD56+). These data suggest that T lymphocytes contribute to RCC pathogenesis in a proportion of patients, and provide a rationale for treatment with IST in selected patients with RCC.
PMCID: PMC4042298  PMID: 24786393
16.  The role of epigenetics in the biology of multiple myeloma 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(5):e207-.
Several recent studies have highlighted the biological complexity of multiple myeloma (MM) that arises as a result of several disrupted cancer pathways. Apart from the central role of genetic abnormalities, epigenetic aberrations have also been shown to be important players in the development of MM, and a lot of research during the past decades has focused on the ways DNA methylation, histone modifications and noncoding RNAs contribute to the pathobiology of MM. This has led to, apart from better understanding of the disease biology, the development of epigenetic drugs, such as histone deacetylase inhibitors that are already used in clinical trials in MM with promising results. This review will present the role of epigenetic abnormalities in MM and how these can affect specific pathways, and focus on the potential of novel ‘epidrugs' as future treatment modalities for MM.
PMCID: PMC4042299  PMID: 24786391
17.  Induced pluripotent stem cells in hematology: current and future applications 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(5):e211-.
Reprogramming somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells is nowadays approaching effectiveness and clinical grade. Potential uses of this technology include predictive toxicology, drug screening, pathogenetic studies and transplantation. Here, we review the basis of current iPS cell technology and potential applications in hematology, ranging from disease modeling of congenital and acquired hemopathies to hematopoietic stem and other blood cell transplantation.
PMCID: PMC4042300  PMID: 24813079
19.  The evolution of clinical trials for infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(4):e200-.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in infants has a significantly inferior outcome in comparison with older children. Despite initial improvements in survival of infants with ALL since establishment of the first pediatric cooperative group ALL trials, the poor outcome has plateaued in recent years. Historically, infants were treated on risk-adapted childhood ALL protocols. These studies were pivotal in identifying the need for infant-specific protocols, delineating prognostic categories and the requirement for a more unified approach between study groups to overcome limitations in accrual because of low incidence. This subsequently led to the development of collaborative infant-specific studies. Landmark outcomes have included the elimination of cranial radiotherapy following the discovery of intrathecal and high-dose systemic therapy as a superior and effective treatment strategy for central nervous system disease prophylaxis, with improved neurodevelopmental outcome. Universal prospective identification of independent adverse prognostic factors, including presence of a mixed lineage leukemia rearrangement and young age, has established the basis for risk stratification within current trials. The infant-specific trials have defined limits to which conventional chemotherapeutic agents can be intensified to optimize the balance between treatment efficacy and toxicity. Despite variations in therapeutic intensity, there has been no recent improvement in survival due to the equilibrium between relapse and toxicity. Ultimately, to improve the outcome for infants with ALL, key areas still to be addressed include identification and adaptation of novel prognostic markers and innovative therapies, establishing the role of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in first complete remission, treatment strategies for relapsed/refractory disease and monitoring and timely intervention of late effects in survivors. This would be best achieved through a single unified international trial.
PMCID: PMC4003413  PMID: 24727996
22.  The emerging role of Twist proteins in hematopoietic cells and hematological malignancies 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(4):e206-.
Twist1 and Twist2 (Twist1–2) are two transcription factors, members of the basic helix-loop-helix family, that have been well established as master transcriptional regulators of embryogenesis and developmental programs of mesenchymal cell lineages. Their role in oncogenesis in epithelium-derived cancer and in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition has also been thoroughly characterized. Recently, emerging evidence also suggests a key role for Twist1–2 in the function and development of hematopoietic cells, as well as in survival and development of numerous hematological malignancies. In this review, we summarize the latest data that depict the role of Twist1–2 in monocytes, T cells and B lymphocyte activation, and in associated hematological malignancies.
PMCID: PMC4003416  PMID: 24769647
25.  Sensitivity of MLL-rearranged AML cells to all-trans retinoic acid is associated with the level of H3K4me2 in the RARα promoter region 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(4):e205-.
All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) is well established as differentiation therapy for acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) in which the PML–RARα (promyelocytic leukemia-retinoic acid receptor α) fusion protein causes blockade of the retinoic acid (RA) pathway; however, in types of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) other than APL, the mechanism of RA pathway inactivation is not fully understood. This study revealed the potential mechanism of high ATRA sensitivity of mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL)-AF9-positive AML compared with MLL-AF4/5q31-positive AML. Treatment with ATRA induced significant myeloid differentiation accompanied by upregulation of RARα, C/EBPα, C/EBPɛ and PU.1 in MLL-AF9-positive but not in MLL-AF4/5q31-positive cells. Combining ATRA with cytarabine had a synergistic antileukemic effect in MLL-AF9-positive cells in vitro. The level of dimethyl histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4me2) in the RARα gene-promoter region, PU.1 upstream regulatory region (URE) and RUNX1+24/+25 intronic enhancer was higher in MLL-AF9-positive cells than in MLL-AF4-positive cells, and inhibiting lysine-specific demethylase 1, which acts as a histone demethylase inhibitor, reactivated ATRA sensitivity in MLL-AF4-positive cells. These findings suggest that the level of H3K4me2 in the RARα gene-promoter region, PU.1 URE and RUNX1 intronic enhancer is determined by the MLL-fusion partner. Our findings provide insight into the mechanisms of ATRA sensitivity in AML and novel treatment strategies for ATRA-resistant AML.
PMCID: PMC4003419  PMID: 24769646

Results 1-25 (216)