• Home
  • News
  • Calendar
  • About DF/HCC
  • Membership
  • Visitor Center

Member Resources



Blood current issue
Blood RSS feed -- current issue

The proinflammatory cytokine interferon- (IFN-) is well known for its important role in innate and adaptive immunity against intracellular infections and for tumor control. Yet, it has become clear that IFN- also has a strong impact on bone marrow (BM) output during inflammation, as it affects the differentiation of most hematopoietic progenitor cells. Here, we review the impact of IFN- on hematopoiesis, including the function of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and more downstream progenitors. We discuss which hematopoietic lineages are functionally modulated by IFN- and through which underlying molecular mechanism(s). We propose the novel concept that IFN- acts through upregulation of suppressor of cytokine signaling molecules, which impairs signaling of several cytokine receptors. IFN- has also gained clinical interest from different angles, and we discuss how chronic IFN- production can lead to the development of anemia and BM failure and how it is involved in malignant hematopoiesis. Overall, this review illustrates the wide-ranging effect of IFN- on the (patho-)physiological processes in the BM.

Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) is a typically aggressive myeloid neoplasm of childhood that is clinically characterized by overproduction of monocytic cells that can infiltrate organs, including the spleen, liver, gastrointestinal tract, and lung. JMML is categorized as an overlap myelodysplastic syndrome/myeloproliferative neoplasm (MDS/MPN) by the World Health Organization and also shares some clinical and molecular features with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, a similar disease in adults. Although the current standard of care for patients with JMML relies on allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant, relapse is the most frequent cause of treatment failure. Tremendous progress has been made in defining the genomic landscape of JMML. Insights from cancer predisposition syndromes have led to the discovery of nearly 90% of driver mutations in JMML, all of which thus far converge on the Ras signaling pathway. This has improved our ability to accurately diagnose patients, develop molecular markers to measure disease burden, and choose therapeutic agents to test in clinical trials. This review emphasizes recent advances in the field, including mapping of the genomic and epigenome landscape, insights from new and existing disease models, targeted therapeutics, and future directions.

CAN2007 was a phase 1/2 study of once- and twice-weekly single-agent bortezomib in relapsed primary systemic amyloid light chain amyloidosis (AL) amyloidosis. Seventy patients were treated, including 18 and 34 patients at the maximum planned doses on the once- and twice-weekly schedules. This prespecified final analysis provides mature response and long-term outcomes data after 3-year additional follow-up since the last report. In the once-weekly 1.6 mg/m2 and twice-weekly 1.3 mg/m2 bortezomib groups, final hematologic response rates were 68.8% and 66.7%; 80% of patients in each group sustained their response for ≥1 year. One-year progression-free rates were 72.2% and 76.8%. Median overall survival (OS) was 62.1 months and not reached; 4-year OS rates were 75.0% and 63.0%. Low baseline difference in / free light-chain level was associated with higher hematologic complete response rates and longer OS. At data cutoff, 40 (57%) patients had received subsequent therapy, including 19 (27%) retreated with bortezomib, 11 (58%) of whom achieved complete or partial hematologic responses. Four patients received prolonged bortezomib for between 3.5 and 5.6 years, with no new safety concerns, highlighting the feasibility of long-term therapy. Single-agent bortezomib produced durable hematologic responses and promising long-term OS in relapsed AL amyloidosis. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT00298766.

Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) mutations define polycythemia vera (PV). Calreticulin (CALR) and myeloproliferative leukemia virus oncogene (MPL) mutations are specific to JAK2-unmutated essential thrombocythemia (ET) and primary myelofibrosis (PMF). We examined the effect of these mutations on long-term disease outcome. One thousand five hundred eighty-one patients from the Mayo Clinic (n = 826) and Italy (n = 755) were studied. Fifty-eight percent of Mayo patients were followed until death; median survivals were 19.8 years in ET (n = 292), 13.5 PV (n = 267; hazard ratio [HR], 1.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.4-2.2), and 5.9 PMF (n = 267; HR, 4.5; 95% CI, 3.5-5.7). The survival advantage of ET over PV was not affected by JAK2/CALR/MPL mutational status. Survival in ET was inferior to the age- and sex-matched US population (P < .001). In PMF (n = 428), but not in ET (n = 576), survival and blast transformation (BT) were significantly affected by mutational status; outcome was best in CALR-mutated and worst in triple-negative patients: median survival, 16 vs 2.3 years (HR, 5.1; 95% CI, 3.2-8.0) and BT, 6.5% vs 25% (HR, 7.6; 95% CI, 2.8-20.2), respectively. We conclude that life expectancy in morphologically defined ET is significantly reduced but remains superior to that of PV, regardless of mutational status. In PMF, JAK2/CALR/MPL mutational status is prognostically informative.

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated posttransplant lymphoma (PTLD) is a major cause of morbidity/mortality after hematopoietic stem cell (SCT) or solid organ (SOT) transplant. Adoptive immunotherapy with EBV-specific cytotoxic lymphocytes (CTLs), although effective in SCT, is less successful after SOT where lifelong immunosuppression therapy is necessary. We have genetically engineered EBV-CTLs to render them resistant to calcineurin (CN) inhibitor FK506 through retroviral transfer of a calcineurin A mutant (CNA12). Here we examined whether or not FK506-resistant EBV-CTLs control EBV-driven tumor progression in the presence of immunosuppression in a xenogeneic mouse model. NOD/SCID/IL2rnull mice bearing human B-cell lymphoma were injected with autologous CTLs transduced with either CNA12 or eGFP in the presence/absence of FK506. Adoptive transfer of autologous CNA12-CTLs induced dramatic lymphoma regression despite the presence of FK506, whereas eGFP-CTLs did not. CNA12-CTLs persisted longer, homed to the tumor, and expanded more than eGFP-CTLs in mice treated with FK506. Mice receiving CNA12-CTLs and treated with FK506 survived significantly longer than control-treated animals. Our results demonstrate that CNA12-CTL induce regression of EBV-associated tumors in vivo despite ongoing immunosuppression. Clinical application of this novel approach may enhance the efficacy of adoptive transfer of EBV-CTL in SOT patients developing PTLD without the need for reduction in immunosuppressive therapy.

The first blood and endothelial cells of amniote embryos appear in close association in the blood islands of the yolk sac (YS). This association and in vitro lineage analyses have suggested a common origin from mesodermal precursors called hemangioblasts, specified in the primitive streak during gastrulation. Fate mapping and chimera studies, however, failed to provide strong evidence for a common origin in the early mouse YS. Additional in vitro studies suggest instead that mesodermal precursors first generate hemogenic endothelium, which then generate blood cells in a linear sequence. We conducted an in vivo clonal analysis to determine the potential of individual cells in the mouse epiblast, primitive streak, and early YS. We found that early YS blood and endothelial lineages mostly derive from independent epiblast populations, specified before gastrulation. Additionally, a subpopulation of the YS endothelium has hemogenic activity and displays characteristics similar to those found later in the embryonic hemogenic endothelium. Our results show that the earliest blood and endothelial cell populations in the mouse embryo are specified independently, and that hemogenic endothelium first appears in the YS and produces blood precursors with markers related to definitive hematopoiesis.

A growing body of evidence suggests that the human natural killer (NK)-cell compartment is phenotypically and functionally heterogeneous and is composed of several differentiation stages. Moreover, NK-cell subsets have been shown to exhibit adaptive immune features during herpes virus infection in experimental mice and to expand preferentially during viral infections in humans. However, both phenotype and role of NK cells during acute symptomatic Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection, termed infectious mononucleosis (IM), remain unclear. Here, we longitudinally assessed the kinetics, the differentiation, and the proliferation of subsets of NK cells in pediatric IM patients. Our results indicate that acute IM is characterized by the preferential proliferation of early-differentiated CD56dim NKG2A+ immunoglobulin-like receptor- NK cells. Moreover, this NK-cell subset exhibits features of terminal differentiation and persists at higher frequency during at least the first 6 months after acute IM. Finally, we demonstrate that this NK-cell subset preferentially degranulates and proliferates on exposure to EBV-infected B cells expressing lytic antigens. Thus, early-differentiated NK cells might play a key role in the immune control of primary infection with this persistent tumor-associated virus.

Next-generation sequencing studies on diffuse large B-cell lymphomas (DLBCLs) have revealed novel targets of genetic aberrations but also high intercohort heterogeneity. Previous studies have suggested that the prevalence of disease subgroups and cytogenetic profiles differ between Western and Asian patients. To characterize the coding genome of Chinese DLBCL, we performed whole-exome sequencing of DNA derived from 31 tumors and respective peripheral blood samples. The mutation prevalence of B2M, CD70, DTX1, LYN, TMSB4X, and UBE2A was investigated in an additional 105 tumor samples. We discovered 11 novel targets of recurrent mutations in DLBCL that included functionally relevant genes such as LYN and TMSB4X. Additional genes were found mutated at high frequency (≥10%) in the Chinese cohort including DTX1, which was the most prevalent mutation target in the Notch pathway. We furthermore demonstrated that mutations in DTX1 impair its function as a negative regulator of Notch. Novel and previous unappreciated targets of somatic mutations in DLBCL identified in this study support the existence of additional/alternative tumorigenic pathways in these tumors. The observed differences with previous reports might be explained by the genetic heterogeneity of DLBCL, the germline genetic makeup of Chinese individuals, and/or exposure to distinct etiological agents.

Macrothrombocytopenias are the most important subgroup of inherited thrombocytopenias. This subgroup is particularly heterogeneous because the affected genes are involved in various functions such as cell signaling, cytoskeleton organization, and gene expression. Herein we describe the clinical and hematological features of a consanguineous family with a severe autosomal recessive macrothrombocytopenia associated with a thrombocytopathy inducing a bleeding tendency in the homozygous mutated patients. Platelet activation and cytoskeleton reorganization were impaired in these homozygous patients. Exome sequencing identified a c.222C>G mutation (missense p.74Ile>Met) in PRKACG, a gene encoding the -catalytic subunit of the cyclic adenosine monophosphate-dependent protein kinase, the mutated allele cosegregating with the macrothrombocytopenia. We demonstrate that the p.74Ile>Met PRKACG mutation is associated with a marked defect in proplatelet formation and a low level in filamin A in megakaryocytes (MKs). The defect in proplatelet formation was rescued in vitro by lentiviral vector-mediated overexpression of wild-type PRKACG in patient MKs. We thus conclude that PRKACG is a new central actor in platelet biogenesis and a new gene involved in inherited thrombocytopenia with giant platelets associated with a thrombocytopathy.

Endomitosis is a unique megakaryocyte (MK) differentiation process that is the consequence of a late cytokinesis failure associated with a contractile ring defect. Evidence from in vitro studies has revealed the distinct roles of 2 nonmuscle myosin IIs (NMIIs) on MK endomitosis: only NMII-B (MYH10), but not NMII-A (MYH9), is localized in the MK contractile ring and implicated in mitosis/endomitosis transition. Here, we studied 2 transgenic mouse models in which nonmuscle myosin heavy chain (NMHC) II-A was genetically replaced either by II-B or by a chimeric NMHCII that combined the head domain of II-A with the rod and tail domains of II-B. This study provides in vivo evidence on the specific role of NMII-B on MK polyploidization. It demonstrates that the carboxyl-terminal domain of the heavy chains determines myosin II localization to the MK contractile ring and is responsible for the specific role of NMII-B in MK polyploidization.

Erythroferrone (ERFE) is an erythropoiesis-driven regulator of iron homeostasis. ERFE mediates the suppression of the iron-regulatory hormone hepcidin to increase iron absorption and mobilization of iron from stores. We examined the role of ERFE in the recovery from anemia of inflammation (AI) induced by injection of heat-killed Brucella abortus. B abortus–treated wild-type mice developed a moderate anemia and reached nadir hemoglobin 14 days after injection and partially recovered by 28 days. We observed that Erfe expression in the bone marrow and the spleen was greatly increased during anemia and peaked at 14 days after injection, a time course similar to serum erythropoietin. To determine whether ERFE facilitates the recovery from anemia, we analyzed Erfe-deficient mice injected with B abortus. Compared with wild-type mice, Erfe-deficient mice exhibited a more severe anemia, had higher hepcidin levels and consequently lower serum iron concentration on days 14 and 21, and manifested impaired mobilization of iron from stores (liver and spleen). Erfe–/– mice eventually compensated by further stimulating erythropoiesis and reticulocyte production. Thus, ERFE contributes to the recovery from AI by suppressing hepcidin and increasing iron availability.

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and its metabolite, adenosine, are key regulators of polymorphonuclear neutrophil (PMN) functions. PMNs have recently been implicated in the initiation of thrombosis. We investigated the role of ATP and adenosine in PMN activation and recruitment at the site of endothelial injury. Following binding to the injured vessel wall, PMNs are activated and release elastase. The recruitment of PMNs and the subsequent fibrin generation and thrombus formation are strongly affected in mice deficient in the P2X1-ATP receptor and in wild-type (WT) mice treated with CGS 21680, an agonist of the A2A adenosine receptor or NF449, a P2X1 antagonist. Infusion of WT PMNs into P2X1-deficient mice increases fibrin generation but not thrombus formation. Restoration of thrombosis requires infusion of both platelets and PMNs from WT mice. In vitro, ATP activates PMNs, whereas CGS 21680 prevents their binding to activated endothelial cells. These data indicate that adenosine triphosphate (ATP) contributes to polymorphonuclear neutrophil (PMN) activation leading to their adhesion at the site of laser-induced endothelial injury, a necessary step leading to the generation of fibrin, and subsequent platelet-dependent thrombus formation. Altogether, our study identifies previously unknown mechanisms by which ATP and adenosine are key molecules involved in thrombosis by regulating the activation state of PMNs.

Acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) limits the success of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT); therefore, a better understanding of its biology may improve therapeutic options. We observed miR-146a up-regulation in T cells of mice developing acute GVHD compared with untreated mice. Transplanting miR-146a–/– T cells caused increased GVHD severity, elevated tumor necrosis factor (TNF) serum levels, and reduced survival. TNF receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6), a verified target of miR-146a, was up-regulated in miR-146a–/– T cells following alloantigen stimulation. Higher TRAF6 levels translated into increased nuclear factor-B activity and TNF production in miR-146a–/– T cells. Conversely, the detrimental effect of miR-146a deficiency in T cells was antagonized by TNF blockade, whereas phytochemical induction of miR-146a or its overexpression using a miR-146a mimic reduced GVHD severity. In humans, the minor genotype of the single nucleotide polymorphism rs2910164 in HCT donors, which reduces expression of miR-146a, was associated with severe acute GVHD (grade III/IV). We show that miR-146a functions as a negative regulator of donor T cells in GVHD by targeting TRAF6, leading to reduced TNF transcription. Because miR-146a expression can be exogenously enhanced, our results provide a novel targeted molecular approach to mitigate GVHD.

We examined current outcomes of unrelated donor allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) to determine the clinical implications of donor-recipient HLA matching. Adult and pediatric patients who had first undergone myeloablative-unrelated bone marrow or peripheral blood HCT for acute myelogenous leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia, and myelodysplastic syndrome between 1999 and 2011 were included. All had high-resolution typing for HLA-A, -B, -C, and -DRB1. Of the total (n = 8003), cases were 8/8 (n = 5449), 7/8 (n = 2071), or 6/8 (n = 483) matched. HLA mismatch (6-7/8) conferred significantly increased risk for grades II to IV and III to IV acute graft vs host disease (GVHD), chronic GVHD, transplant-related mortality (TRM), and overall mortality compared with HLA-matched cases (8/8). Type (allele/antigen) and locus (HLA-A, -B, -C, and -DRB1) of mismatch were not associated with overall mortality. Among 8/8 matched cases, HLA-DPB1 and -DQB1 mismatch resulted in increased acute GVHD, and HLA-DPB1 mismatch had decreased relapse. Nonpermissive HLA-DPB1 allele mismatch was associated with higher TRM compared with permissive HLA-DPB1 mismatch or HLA-DPB1 match and increased overall mortality compared with permissive HLA-DPB1 mismatch in 8/8 (and 10/10) matched cases. Full matching at HLA-A, -B, -C, and -DRB1 is required for optimal unrelated donor HCT survival, and avoidance of nonpermissive HLA-DPB1 mismatches in otherwise HLA-matched pairs is indicated.