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Normal and leukemic stem cell niche interactions

Oh, Il-Hoana,b; Jeong, Seon-Yeonga; Kim, Jin-Aa

Current Opinion in Hematology: July 2019 - Volume 26 - Issue 4 - p 249–257
doi: 10.1097/MOH.0000000000000508
HEMATOPOIESIS: Edited by Hal E. Broxmeyer and Maegan L. Capitano

Purpose of review Normal hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and leukemic stem cells (LSCs) interact with the stem cell niche bone marrow in different ways. Understanding the potentially unique microenvironmental regulation of LSCs is key to understanding in-vivo leukemogenic mechanisms and developing novel antileukemic therapies.

Recent findings When leukemic cells are engrafted in the stem cell niche, the cellular nature of the niche – including mesenchymal stromal cells – is reprogramed. Altered mesenchymal cells selectively support leukemic cells and reinforce the pro-leukemic environment. As the niche plays an active role in leukemogenesis, its remodeling may significantly influence the leukemogenic pattern, and cause differences in clinical prognosis. Notably, niche cells could be stimulated to revert to a pronormal/antileukemic state, creating potential for niche-based antileukemic therapy.

Summary Bone marrow microenvironments are under dynamic regulation for normal and leukemic cells, and there is bi-directional control of leukemic cells in the niche. Leukemic cells are both protected by stroma and able to reprogram stromal cells to transform the niche to a state, which reinforces leukemogenesis. Because of its dynamic nature, the niche could be converted to an environment with antileukemic properties, making it an attractive target for therapy.

aCatholic High-Performance Cell Therapy Center

bDepartment of Medical Lifescience, The Catholic University of Korea, College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

Correspondence to Il-Hoan Oh, MD, PhD, Catholic High-Performance Cell Therapy Center, The Catholic University of Korea, 505, Banpo-Dong, Seocho-Ku, Seoul 137-701, Korea. Tel: +82 2 2258 8268; fax: 82 2 591 3994; e-mail:

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