The failure of normal hematopoiesis in myeloid neoplasm could be induced by a variety of mechanism. Regarding myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)/acute leukemia (AML), aberrant hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells with exhibiting ineffective hematopoiesis and impaired differentiation ability gradually substitute it for normal hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells during a long term as a consequent of replacement of stem cell niche. However, it has not yet been clarified precise mechanism how MDS stem/progenitor cells could replace normal hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells.


In an attempt to analyze the supporting activity of bone marrow (BM) stromal cells, we first established the MDS/AML-derived stromal cells and healthy volunteer (HV)-derived-stromal cells. Next, MDS/AML-derived CD34+ cells or normal CD34+ cells were cocultured with established stromal cells using cytokines including stem cell factor, thrombopoietin, flt3-ligand in the presence of notch ligand (for normal CD34+ cells) or IL-3 (for AML/MDS derived cells). Subsequently, we analyzed clonogenic cells after 2 weeks coculture, 5 week cobblestone area-forming cells (CAFC) and repopulating cells in immunedeficient mice (NSG mice).


The support of clonogenic cells after 2 weeks coculture and 5 weeks CAFCs was observed after coculture with normal CD34+ cells and HV-derived stromal cells. Furthermore, these cocultured cells engrafted into immunedeficient mice. Interestingly, the number of colony-forming units (CFU) mixed cells (MIXs) and CAFC derived from CD34+ cells was drastically reduced after coculture with MDS/AML-derived stromal cells. Nevertheless, MDS/AML-derived stromal cells support the proliferation of leukemia-initiating cells (L-ICs) and L-ICs were detected after third replating. These results indicate that MDS/AML-derived stromal cells preferentially support leukemia stem/progenitor cells, but not normal CD34+ cells. We compared the mRNA expression between (HV)-derived-stromal cells, MDS/AML-derived stromal cells and 5-aza-dC-treated stromal cells. The expression of several factors including hedgehog-interacting protein (HHIP) was reduced in MDS/AML-derived stromal cells. 5-aza-dC treatment restored the expression in some of genes and the stromal supporting activity for normal CD34+ cells partially recovered.


These results suggest that reduction of several gene expressions was detected in MDS/AML stromal cells by changes of methylation status. The epigenetic alteration of stromal genome may be involved in the progression of myeloid disorders.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.