[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent studies indicate that abnormalities of the alpha-chain of the interleukin-3 receptor (IL-3RA or CD123) are frequently observed in some leukemic disorders and may contribute to the proliferative advantage of leukemic cells. This review analyzes the studies indicating that CD123 is overexpressed in various hematologic malignancies, including a part of acute myeloid and B-lymphoid leukemias, blastic plasmocytoid dendritic neoplasms (BPDCN) and hairy cell leukemia.Given the low/absent CD123 expression on normal hematopoietic stem cells, attempts have been made at preclinical first, and then at clinical level to target this receptor. Since the IL-3R is a membrane receptor there are two relatively simple means to target this molecule, either using its natural ligand or neutralizing monoclonal antibodies. Recent reports using a fusion molecule composed by human IL-3 coupled to a truncated diphteria toxin have shown promising antitumor activity in BPDCN and AML patients.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The studies carried out during the last two decades have represented a great effort in trying to identify and define cell populations endowed with the phenotypic and functional properties of endothelial progenitors. From these studies a scenario now emerges indicating that in the blood there are very rare endothelial progenitor cells, called endothelial colony-forming cells (ECFCs) or late outgrowth endothelial cells, not originated from bone marrow, capable of generating phenotypically and functionally competent endothelial cells, capable to be incorporated in vivo into growing vessels. ECFCs are present in the circulation as well as cells resident in the vascular endothelial intima. In addition to these progenitors, there are some hematopoietic progenitor cells capable of generating a monocytic cell progeny exerting a pro-angiogenic activity in vivo, but unable to be directly incorporated into growing vessels. These cells exert a pro-angiogenic effect in vivo through a paracrine mechanism based on the secretion of growth factors and cytokines.
Blood Cells Molecules and Diseases 12/2013; · 2.26 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate cell proliferation, differentiation and death during development and postnatal life. The expression level of mature miRNAs results from complex molecular mechanisms, including the transcriptional regulation of their genes. MiR-223 is a hematopoietic-specific miRNA participating in regulatory signaling networks involving lineage-specific transcription factors (TFs). However, the transcriptional mechanisms governing its expression levels and its functional role in lineage fate decision of human hematopoietic progenitors (HPCs) have not yet been clarified. We found that in CD34(+)HPCs undergoing unilineage differentiation/maturation, miR-223 is upregulated more than 10-fold during granulopoiesis, 3-fold during monocytopoiesis and maintained at low levels during erythropoiesis. Chromatin immunoprecipitation and promoter luciferase assays showed that the lineage-specific expression level of mature miR-223 is controlled by the coordinated binding of TFs to their DNA-responsive elements located in 'distal' and 'proximal' regulatory regions of the miR-223 gene, differentially regulating the transcription of two primary transcripts (pri-miRs). All this drives myeloid progenitor maturation into specific lineages. Accordingly, modulation of miR-223 activity in CD34(+)HPCs and myeloid cell lines significantly affects their differentiation/maturation into erythroid, granulocytic and monocytic/macrophagic lineages. MiR-223 overexpression increases granulopoiesis and impairs erythroid and monocytic/macrophagic differentiation. Its knockdown, meanwhile, impairs granulopoiesis and facilitates erythropoiesis and monocytic/macrophagic differentiation. Overall, our data reveal that transcriptional pathways acting on the differential regulation of two pri-miR transcripts results in the fine-tuning of a single mature miRNA expression level, which dictates the lineage fate decision of hematopoietic myeloid progenitors.Cell Death and Differentiation advance online publication, 18 October 2013; doi:10.1038/cdd.2013.145.
Cell death and differentiation 10/2013; · 8.24 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play key roles in modulating a variety of cellular processes through repression of mRNAs target. The functional relevance of microRNAs has been proven in normal and malignant hematopoiesis. While analyzing miRNAs expression profile in unilineage serum-free liquid suspension unilineage cultures of peripheral blood CD34(+) hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) through the erythroid, megakaryocytic, granulocytic and monocytic pathways, we identified miR-486-3p as mainly expressed within the erythroid lineage. We showed that miR-486-3p regulates BCL11A expression by binding to the extra-long isoform of BCL11A 3'UTR. Overexpression of miR-486-3p in erythroid cells resulted in reduced BCL11A protein levels, associated to increased expression of γ-globin gene, whereas inhibition of physiological miR-486-3p levels increased BCL11A and, consequently, reduced γ-globin expression. Thus, miR-486-3p regulating BCL11A expression might contributes to fetal hemoglobin (HbF) modulation and arise the question as to what extent this miRNA might contribute to different HbF levels observed among β-thalassemia patients. Erythroid cells, differentiated from PB CD34(+) cells of a small cohort of patients affected by major or intermedia β-thalassemia, showed miR-486-3p levels significantly higher than those observed in normal counterpart. Importantly, in these patients, miR-486-3p expression correlates with increased HbF synthesis. Thus, our data indicate that miR-486-3p might contribute to different HbF levels observed among thalassemic patients and, possibly, to the clinical severity of the disease.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(4):e60436. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The development of the genetic studies on acute myeloid leukemias (AMLs) has led to the identification of some recurrent genetic abnormalities. Their discovery was of fundamental importance not only for a better understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of AMLs, but also for the identification of new therapeutic targets. In this context, it is essential to identify AML-associated "driver" mutations, which have a causative role in leukemogenesis. Evidences accumulated during the last years indicate that activating internal tandem duplication mutations in FLT3 (FLT3-ITD), detected in about 20% of AMLs, represents driver mutations and valid therapeutic targets in AMLs. Furthermore, the screening of FLT3-ITD mutations has also considerably helped to improve the identification of more accurate prognostic criteria and of the therapeutic selection of patients.
Leukemia research and treatment. 01/2013; 2013:275760.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs (miRNAs), small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally, are involved in many complex cellular processes. Several miRNAs are differentially expressed in hematopoietic tissues and play important roles in normal differentiation, but, when aberrantly regulated, contribute to the abnormal proliferation and differentiation of leukemic cells. Recently, we reported that a small subset of miRNAs is differentially expressed in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) blasts and is modulated by treatment with all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA). In particular, PML/RARα-positive blasts from APL patients display lower levels of miRNA let-7c, a member of the let-7 family, than normal promyelocytes and its expression increases after ATRA treatment. In this study, we investigated the effects of let-7c in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells. We found that ectopic expression of let-7c promotes granulocytic differentiation of AML cell lines and primary blasts. Moreover, we identified PBX2, a well-known homeodomain protein whose aberrant expression enhances HoxA9-dependent leukemogenesis, as a novel let-7c target that may contribute to the AML phenotype. Together, these studies raise the possibility that perturbation of the let-7c-PBX2 pathway may have a therapeutic value in AML.Oncogene advance online publication, 10 September 2012; doi:10.1038/onc.2012.398.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNA (miRs) represent a class of small non-coding regulatory RNAs playing a major role in the control of gene expression by repressing protein synthesis at the post-transcriptional level. Studies carried out during the last years have shown that some miRNAs plays a key role in the control of normal and malignant hgematopoiesis. In this review we focus on recent progress in analyzing the functional role of miR-146a in the control of normal and malignant hematopoiesis. On the other hand, this miRNA has shown to impact in the control of innate immune responses. Finally, many recent studies indicate a deregulation of miR-146 in many solid tumors and gene knockout studies indicate a role for this miRNA as a tumor suppressor.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cord blood (CB) is a rich source of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and for this reason CB transplantation has been used successfully for the treatment of some malignant and nonmalignant diseases. However, this technique is limited by the relatively low number of HSCs present in each CB unit and by the delayed engraftment of platelets and neutrophils. To bypass these obstacles efforts have been made to develop strategies to expand CB HSCs in vitro for transplantation. CB is also an important source of other stem cells, including endothelial progenitors, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), very small embryonic/epiblast-like (VSEL) stem cells, and unrestricted somatic stem cells (USSC), potentially suitable for use in regenerative medicine. For some of these stem cell populations, such as MSCs, clinical studies have been started and for other stem cell populations potential clinical applications have been identified and clinical studies will follow. In addition to CB, other parts of umbilical cord, such as the Wharton's jelly, or tissues strictly linked such as the placenta are also rich sources of stem cells.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Embryologic and genetic evidence suggest a common origin of haematopoietic and endothelial lineages. In the murine embryo, recent studies indicate the presence of haemogenic endothelium and of a common haemato-endothelial precursor, the haemangioblast. Conversely, so far, little evidence supports the presence of haemogenic endothelium and haemangioblasts in later stages of development. Our studies indicate that human cord blood haematopoietic progenitors (CD34+45+144-), triggered by murine hepatocyte conditioned medium, differentiate into adherent proliferating endothelial precursors (CD144+CD105+CD146+CD31+CD45-) capable of functioning as haemogenic endothelium. These cells, proven to give rise to functional vasculature in vivo, if further instructed by haematopoietic growth factors, first switch to transitional CD144+45+ cells and then to haematopoietic cells. These results highlight the plasticity of haemato-endhothelial precursors in human post-natal life. Furthermore, these studies may provide highly enriched populations of human post-fetal haemogenic endothelium, paving the way for innovative projects at a basic and possibly clinical level.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(12):e51109. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ovarian cancer remains a leading cause of death in women and development of new therapies is essential. Second mitochondria derived activator of caspase (SMAC) has been described to sensitize for apoptosis. We have explored the pro-apoptotic activity of LBW242, a mimic of SMAC/DIABLO, on ovarian cancer cell lines (A2780 cells and its chemoresistant derivative A2780/ADR, SKOV3 and HEY cells) and in primary ovarian cancer cells. The effects of LBW242 on ovarian cancer cell lines and primary ovarian cancer cells was determined by cell proliferation, apoptosis and biochemical assays.
LBW242 added alone elicited only a moderate pro-apoptotic effect; however, it strongly synergizes with tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) or anticancer drugs in inducing apoptosis of both ovarian cancer cell lines and primary ovarian cancer cells. Mechanistic studies show that LBW242-induced apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells is associated with activation of caspase-8. In line with this mechanism, c-FLIP overexpression inhibits LBW242-mediated apoptosis.
LBW242 sensitizes ovarian cancer cells to the antitumor effects of TRAIL and anticancer drugs commonly used in clinic. These observations suggest that the SMAC/DIABLO mimic LBW242 could be of value for the development of experimental strategies for treatment of ovarian cancer.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(4):e35073. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The tyrosine kinase Tie-2 and its ligands Angiopoietins (Angs) transduce critical signals for angiogenesis in endothelial cells. This receptor and Ang-1 are coexpressed in hematopoietic stem cells and in a subset of megakaryocytes, though a possible role of angiopoietins in megakaryocytic differentiation/proliferation remains to be demonstrated. To investigate a possible effect of Ang-1/Ang-2 on megakaryocytic proliferation/differentiation we have used both normal CD34(+) cells induced to megakaryocytic differentiation and the UT7 cells engineered to express the thrombopoietin receptor (TPOR, also known as c-mpl, UT7/mpl). Our results indicate that Ang-1/Ang-2 may have a role in megakaryopoiesis. Particularly, Ang-2 is predominantly produced and released by immature normal megakaryocytic cells and by undifferentiated UT7/mpl cells and slightly stimulated TPO-induced cell proliferation. Ang-1 production is markedly induced during megakaryocytic differentiation/maturation and potentiated TPO-driven megakaryocytic differentiation. Blocking endogenously released angiopoietins partially inhibited megakaryocytic differentiation, particularly for that concerns the process of polyploidization. According to these data it is suggested that an autocrine angiopoietin/Tie-2 loop controls megakaryocytic proliferation and differentiation.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(7):e39796. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CXCR4 is a negative prognostic marker in acute myeloid leukemias (AMLs). Therefore, it is necessary to develop novel ways to inhibit CXCR4 expression in leukemia. AMD3100 is an inhibitor of CXCR4 currently used to mobilize cancer cells. CXCR4 is a target of microRNA (miR)-146a that may represent a new tool to inhibit CXCR4 expression. We then investigated CXCR4 regulation by miR-146a in primary AMLs and found an inverse correlation between miR-146a and CXCR4 protein expression levels in all AML subtypes. As the lowest miR-146a expression levels were observed in M5 AML, we analyzed the control of CXCR4 expression by miR-146a in normal and leukemic monocytic cells and showed that the regulatory miR-146a/CXCR4 pathway operates during monocytopoiesis, but is deregulated in AMLs. AMD3100 treatment and miR-146a overexpression were used to inhibit CXCR4 in leukemic cells. AMD3100 treatment induces the decrease of CXCR4 protein expression, associated with miR-146a increase, and increases sensitivity of leukemic blast cells to cytotoxic drugs, this effect being further enhanced by miR-146a overexpression. Altogether our data indicate that miR-146a and AMD3100, acting through different mechanism, downmodulate CXCR4 protein levels, impair leukemic cell proliferation and then may be used in combination with anti-leukemia drugs, for development of new therapeutic strategies.
Blood Cancer Journal 06/2011; 1(6):e26. · 1.40 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Early studies carried out in acute myelogenous leukaemia have supported the existence of tumour cells with stem-cell-like
properties in this disease. On the basis of many subsequent studies, the cancer stem cell concept was formulated, postulating
the existence of a small reservoir of self-sustaining cells able to self-renew and to maintain the tumour. During the last
years cancer stem cells have been identified in solid cancers. Using CD133, CD44, EpCAM antibodies, human colon cancers have
been demonstrated to contain cancer stem cells. The identification and characterization of these cells offer the unique opportunity
to improve our understanding of the biology of colon cancer. On the other hand, colon cancer stem cells, that have been shown
to be refractory to standard therapy, represent an important tool for discovering new anticancer agents.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Leukemia-initiating cells (LICs) or leukemia stem cells (LSCs) are defined by their ability to form tumors after xenotransplantation in immunodeficient mice and appear to be rare in most human leukemias. In various leukemias, only small subpopulations of cells can transfer disease upon transplantation into immunocompromised NOD/SCID mice, and markers that distinguish the leukemogenic cancer cells from the bulk populations of non-leukemogenic cells have been identified. However, the phenotype of LICs is heterogeneous: it is variable for the different types of acute myeloid leukemias; cells with different membrane phenotype can act as LICs in each B-acute lymphoid leukemia; LICs change during the evolution of chronic myeloid leukemia from the chronic to the acute phase. There is a general consensus that the identification and characterization of leukemic stem cells might lead to the identification of new therapeutic targets and, through this way, to more effective treatments by focusing therapy on the most malignant cells.
Annals of Hematology 03/2011; 90(3):245-71. · 2.87 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: FMS-related tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) mutations are found in 30% of cases of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). In addition, recent studies have lead to the identification of about 10-15% of AML patients displaying high expression of FLT3, not associated with mutations of the receptor (FLT3 Wild-type High, FLT3WTH). These AMLs, as well as those displaying internal tandem duplication (ITD) are associated with an unfavourable prognosis. However, the biological features of these AMLs are poorly characterized. The present study explored the immunophenotypic features of FLT3WTH AMLs in 94 de novo cases of AML. The levels of FLT3 expression, as assessed by flow cytometry and FLT3 mutational status, was used to identify four AML subgroups: FLT3WTH (14/94); FLT3 Wild-type low (FLT3WTL, 48/94); FLT3 internal tandem duplication (FLT3ITD 26/94); FLT3 aspartic acid 835 (FLT3D835, 6/94). FLT3WTH and FLT3ITD were characterized by: high white blast cell counts; predominance of M4 and M5 French-American-British classification subtypes and associated expression of myelo-monocytic markers; high expression of CD123 and TRAIL-Rs; high expression of receptors for angiogenic growth factors. Addition of FLT3 Ligand to human CD34(+) or monocytic cells stimulated CD123 and TRAIL-R expression. These findings are of potential value for the development of new therapeutic strategies.
British Journal of Haematology 02/2011; 153(1):33-42. · 4.94 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although the triterpene CDDO and its potent derivatives, CDDO-Im and CDDO-Me, are now in phase I/II studies in the treatment of some pathological conditions, their effects on normal hematopoiesis are not known. In the present study we provide evidence that CDDO-Im exerts in vitro a potent inhibitory effect on erythroid cell proliferation and survival and a stimulatory action on megakaryocytic differentiation. The effect of CDDO-Im on erythroid and megakaryocytic differentiation was evaluated both on normal hemopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) induced to selective erythroid (E) or megakaryocytic (Mk) differentiation and on erythroleukemic cell lines HEL and TF1. The inhibitory effect of CDDO-Im on erythroid cell survival and proliferation is mainly related to a reduced GATA-1 expression. This conclusion is supported by the observation that GATA-1 overexpressing TF1 cells are partially protected from the inhibitory effect of CDDO-Im on cell proliferation and survival. The stimulatory effect of CDDO-Im on normal megakaryopoiesis is seemingly related to upmodulation of GATA2 expression and induction of mitogen-activated protein kinases ERK1/2.
Leukemia research 10/2010; 35(4):534-44. · 2.36 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ets-1 is a widely expressed transcription factor implicated in several biological processes including hematopoiesis, where it contributes to the regulation of cellular differentiation. The functions of Ets-1 are regulated by transcription factors as well as by phosphorylation events: phosphorylation of threonine 38 activates Ets-1, whereas phosphorylation of a cluster of serines within exon VII reduces DNA binding activity. This study focuses on the role of Ets-1 during granulocytic differentiation of NB4 promyelocytic and HL60 myeloblastic leukemia cell lines induced by all-trans retinoic acid.
Ets-1 expression was measured by real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and western blotting. The role of Ets-1 during all-trans retinoic acid-induced differentiation was analyzed by using a transdominant negative molecule or small interfering RNA.
NB4 and HL60 cell lines expressed high levels of p51 Ets-1, while the splice variant isoform that lacks exon VII (p42) was almost undetectable. The addition of all-trans retinoic acid reduced p51 Ets-1 levels and induced inhibitory phosphorylation of the remaining protein. Expression of Ets-1 was also reduced during dimethylsulfoxide-induced differentiation and during granulocytic differentiation of human CD34(+) hematopoietic progenitor cells but not in NB4.R2 and HL60R cells resistant to all-trans retinoic acid. In line with these observations, transduction of a transdominant negative molecule of Ets-1, which inhibited DNA binding and transcriptional activity of the wild-type Ets-1, significantly increased chemical-induced differentiation. Consistently, Ets-1 knockdown by small interfering RNA increased the number of mature neutrophils upon addition of all-trans retinoic acid. Interestingly, p51 Ets-1 over-expression was frequently observed in CD34(+) hematopoietic progenitor cells derived from patients with acute myeloid leukemia, as compared to its expression in normal CD34(+) cells.
Our results indicated that a decreased expression of Ets-1 protein generalizes to granulocytic differentiation and may represent a crucial event for granulocytic maturation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The pathophysiology of coronary artery disease (CAD) progression is not well understood. Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) may have an important role. In the present observational cohort study we assessed the number of circulating EPCs in 136 patients undergoing elective percutaneous coronary intervention and who had at least one major epicardial vessel with a nonsignificant stenosis [<50% diameter stenosis (DS)], and the relationship between plasma EPC levels and the 24-mo progression of the nonsignificant coronary artery lesion. The following cell populations were analyzed: CD34(+), CD133(+), CD34(+)/KDR(+), CD34(+)/VE cadherin(+), and endothelial cell colony-forming units (CFU-ECs). Progression was defined as a >15% DS increase of the objective vessel at follow-up. At 24 mo, 57 patients (42%) experienced significant progression. Independent predictors of disease progression were LDL cholesterol > 100 mg/dl (OR=1.03; 95% CI 1.01-1.04; P=0.001), low plasma levels of CFU-ECs (OR=3.99; 95% CI 1.54-10.37; P=0.005), and male sex (OR=3.42; 95% CI 1.15-10.22; P=0.027). Circulating levels of EPCs are significantly lower in patients with angiographic CAD progression.
The FASEB Journal 06/2010; 24(6):1981-8. · 5.70 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Salinomycin, a polyether antibiotic acting as a highly selective potassium ionophore and widely used as an anticoccidial drug, was recently shown to act as a specific inhibitor of cancer stem cells. In the present study we report that salinomycin acts as a potent inhibitor of multidrug resistance gp170, as evidenced through drug efflux assays in MDR cancer cell lines overexpressing P-gp (CEM-VBL 10 and CEM-VBL 100; A2780/ADR). Conformational P-gp assay provided evidence that the inhibitory effect of salinomycin on P-gp function could be mediated by the induction of a conformational change of the ATP transporter. Treatment of the MDR cell lines with salinomycin restored a normal drug sensitivity of these cells. The observation that salinomycin is a MDR-1 inhibitor may have important implications for the understanding of the mechanisms through which this drug impairs the viability of cancer stem cells. Interestingly, nigericin and abamectin, two additional drugs identified as cancer stem cells inhibitors, also act as potent gp170 inhibitors.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The effects of endurance or maximal exercise on mobilization of bone marrow-derived hemopoietic and angiogenetic progenitors in healthy subjects are poorly defined. In 10 healthy amateur runners, we collected venous blood before, at the end of, and the day after a marathon race (n = 9), and before and at the end of a 1.5-km field test (n = 8), and measured hemopoietic and angiogenetic progenitors by flow cytometry and culture assays, as well as plasma or serum concentrations of several cytokines/growth factors. After the marathon, CD34(+) cells were unchanged, whereas clonogenetic assays showed decreased number of colonies for both erythropoietic (BFU-E) and granulocyte-monocyte (CFU-GM) series, returning to baseline the morning post-race. Conversely, CD34(+) cells, BFU-E, and CFU-GM increased after the field test. Angiogenetic progenitors, assessed as CD34(+)KDR(+) and CD133(+)VE-cadherin(+) cells or as adherent cells in culture expressing endothelial markers, increased after both endurance and maximal exercise but showed a different pattern between protocols. Interleukin-6 increased more after the marathon than after the field test, whereas hepatocyte growth factor and stem cell factor increased similarly in both protocols. Plasma levels of angiopoietin (Ang) 1 and 2 increased after both types of exercise, whereas the Ang-1-to-Ang-2 ratio or vascular endothelial growth factor-A were little affected. These data suggest that circulating hemopoietic progenitors may be utilized in peripheral tissues during prolonged endurance exercise. Endothelial progenitor mobilization after exercise in healthy trained subjects appears modulated by the type of exercise. Exercise-induced increase in growth factors suggests a physiological trophic effect of exercise on the bone marrow.
Journal of Applied Physiology 05/2010; 109(1):60-7. · 3.48 Impact Factor