Abstract 1762

Poster Board I-788

The myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) represent a heterogeneous group of disorders characterized by peripheral cytopenias due to impaired hematopoietic differentiation. To date, most data characterizing the immature hematopoietic compartment in MDS have relied on evaluation of CD34+ bone marrow cells, which are a heterogeneous population containing a predominance of oligo- and unilineage-potent progenitors and few hematopoietic stem cells (HSC). In this study we show that MDS are disorders of HSC, evidenced by the presence of recurrent cytogenetic alterations, including -5q, -7, and -20q, in highly purified HSC (Lin-CD34+CD38-CD90+CD45RA-) by FISH. Because MDS HSC harbor cytogenetic changes, we sought to better characterize the molecular basis of MDS HSC function by performing whole transcriptome analysis of highly purified HSC and committed myeloid progenitor populations from low-risk (n=8) and high-risk (n=2) MDS patients. When compared to control HSC from healthy patients (n=10), MDS HSC showed broad transcriptional changes. Using the significance analysis of microarrays (SAM) algorithm and Ingenuity Pathways Analysis software, we identified 3,258 differentially expressed genes (FDR < 0.1) with increased expression of genes positively associated with cell growth and proliferation (p < 0.001) and increased expression of inflammatory response genes (p < 0.015). Interestingly, while MDS common myeloid progenitors (CMP, Lin-CD34+CD38+CD123+CD45RA-) showed increased expression of cell death-related genes when compared to normal CMP (p < 0.001), neither MDS HSC nor multipotent progenitors (MPP, Lin-CD34+CD38-CD90-CD45RA-) showed significant differential expression of these genes when compared to their normal counterparts. To assess the cellular and developmental correlates of HSC/committed progenitor transcriptional changes, we evaluated by flow cytometry the frequency of HSC and committed myeloid progenitors in bone marrow aspirates from 35 low-risk MDS, 6 high-risk MDS and 32 healthy patient samples (range 4-84 yo). Low-risk MDS bone marrow samples showed significantly increased numbers of HSC compared to normal bone marrow samples (+3-fold change, p < 0.03). In addition, myeloid progenitor composition was frequently altered in low-risk MDS patients, with decreased percentages of granulocyte-macrophage progenitors (GMP, Lin-CD34+CD38+CD123+CD45RA+) when expressed as a percentage of total myeloid progenitors [including GMP, CMP and megakaryocyte-erythroid progenitors (MEP, Lin-CD34+CD38+CD123loCD45RA-)] (-2.3-fold change, p < 1e-6). This altered myeloid progenitor profile was highly specific to MDS, even when MDS patient samples were compared to a group of control bone marrow samples from non-MDS patients exhibiting at least one cytopenia (n=34, p < 1e-5), allowing for the distinction of MDS samples from non-MDS cytopenias with 0.89 sensitivity and 0.89 specificity. Together, these data indicate that MDS HSC exhibit significantly altered gene expression profiles and suggest that gene expression changes in MDS HSC induce the altered developmental fate decisions and transcriptional changes observed in MDS committed myeloid progenitors. These data also demonstrate that the changes in MDS myeloid progenitor composition may provide a novel, flow cytometric method for distinguishing MDS from other hematologic conditions that mimic MDS. Finally, these studies indicate that molecular characterization of MDS phenotypes may require evaluation of purified hematopoietic progenitors in order to account for the differential effect of MDS-associated changes on specific hematopoietic progenitor populations.


Weissman:Amgen: Equity Ownership; Cellerant Inc.: Founder; Stem Cells Inc.: Equity Ownership, Founder; U.S. Patent Application 11/528,890 entitled “Methods for Diagnosing and Evaluating Treatment of Blood Disorders.”: Patents & Royalties.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.