Contribution of bone microenvironment to leukemogenesis and leukemia progression

Leukemia. 2009 Dec;23(12):2233-41. doi: 10.1038/leu.2009.175. Epub 2009 Sep 3.


Tumor microenvironment has a major role in cancer progression and resistance to treatment. The bone marrow (BM) is a dynamic network of growth factors, cytokines and stromal cells, providing a permissive environment for leukemogenesis and progression. Both BM stroma and leukemic blasts promote angiogenesis, which is increased in acute lymphoblastic leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia. Growth factors like vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), basic fibroblast growth factor and angiopoietins are the main proangiogenic mediators in acute leukemia. Autocrine proleukemic loops have been described for VEGF and angiopoietin in hematopoietic cells. Interactions of stromal cells and extracellular matrix with leukemic blasts can also generate antiapoptotic signals that contribute to neoplastic progression and persistence of treatment-resistant minimal residual disease. High expression of CXC chemokine ligand 4 (CXCR4) by leukemic blasts and activation of the CXCR4-CXCL12 axis is involved in leukemia progression and disruption of normal hematopoiesis. Leukemia-associated bone microenvironment markers could be used as prognostic or predictive indicators of disease progression and/or treatment outcome. Studies related to bone microenvironment would likely provide a better understanding of the treatment resistance associated with leukemia therapy and design of new treatments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Marrow / chemistry
  • Bone Marrow / pathology*
  • Bone Marrow Cells / chemistry
  • Bone Marrow Cells / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow Cells / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / etiology*
  • Leukemia / pathology*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / etiology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology