Acute myeloid leukemia maturation lineage influences residual disease and relapse following differentiation therapy

Steven Ngo, Ethan P. Oxley, Margherita Ghisi, Maximilian M. Garwood, Mark D. McKenzie, Helen L. Mitchell, Peter Kanellakis, Olivia Susanto, Michael J. Hickey, Andrew C. Perkins, Benjamin T. Kile, Ross A. Dickins

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Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a malignancy of immature progenitor cells. AML differentiation therapies trigger leukemia maturation and can induce remission, but relapse is prevalent and its cellular origin is unclear. Here we describe high resolution analysis of differentiation therapy response and relapse in a mouse AML model. Triggering leukemia differentiation in this model invariably produces two phenotypically distinct mature myeloid lineages in vivo. Leukemia-derived neutrophils dominate the initial wave of leukemia differentiation but clear rapidly and do not contribute to residual disease. In contrast, a therapy-induced population of mature AML-derived eosinophil-like cells persists during remission, often in extramedullary organs. Using genetic approaches we show that restricting therapy-induced leukemia maturation to the short-lived neutrophil lineage markedly reduces relapse rates and can yield cure. These results indicate that relapse can originate from therapy-resistant mature AML cells, and suggest differentiation therapy combined with targeted eradication of mature leukemia-derived lineages may improve disease outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6546
Number of pages14
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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