Neoplasia 2018 06 15;20(6):632-642. Epub 2018 May 15.
Ludwig Boltzmann Cluster Oncology, Medical University of Vienna, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, 1090 Vienna, Austria; Department of Internal Medicine I, Division of Hematology and Hemostaseology, Medical University of Vienna, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, 1090 Vienna, Austria. Electronic address:
Leukemic stem cells (LSCs) are an emerging target of curative anti-leukemia therapy. In acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), LSCs frequently express CD34 and often lack CD38. However, little is known about markers and targets expressed in ALL LSCs. We have examined marker- and target expression profiles in CD34/CD38 LSCs in patients with Ph ALL (n = 22) and Ph ALL (n = 27) by multi-color flow cytometry and qPCR. ALL LSCs expressed CD19 (B4), CD44 (Pgp-1), CD123 (IL-3RA), and CD184 (CXCR4) in all patients tested. Moreover, in various subgroups of patients, LSCs also displayed CD20 (MS4A1) (10/41 = 24%), CD22 (12/20 = 60%), CD33 (Siglec-3) (20/48 = 42%), CD52 (CAMPATH-1) (17/40 = 43%), IL-1RAP (13/29 = 45%), and/or CD135 (FLT3) (4/20 = 20%). CD25 (IL-2RA) and CD26 (DPPIV) were expressed on LSCs in Ph ALL exhibiting BCR/ABL1, whereas in Ph ALL with BCR/ABL1, LSCs variably expressed CD25 but did not express CD26. In Ph ALL, CD34/CD38 LSCs expressed IL-1RAP in 6/18 patients (33%), but did not express CD25 or CD26. Normal stem cells stained negative for CD25, CD26 and IL-1RAP, and expressed only low amounts of CD52. In xenotransplantation experiments, CD34/CD38 and CD34/CD38 cells engrafted NSG mice after 12-20 weeks, and targeting with antibodies against CD33 and CD52 resulted in reduced engraftment. Together, LSCs in Ph and Ph ALL display unique marker- and target expression profiles. In Ph ALL with BCR/ABL1, the LSC-phenotype closely resembles the marker-profile of CD34/CD38 LSCs in chronic myeloid leukemia, confirming the close biologic relationship of these neoplasms. Targeting of LSCs with specific antibodies or related immunotherapies may facilitate LSC eradication in ALL.