Role of CXCR4 in the pathogenesis of acute myeloid leukemia

Theranostics. 2013;3(1):34-9. doi: 10.7150/thno.5150. Epub 2013 Jan 13.


The Chemokine receptor CXCR4 and its ligand stromal derived factor-1 (SDF-1/CXCL12) are important players involved in cross-talk between leukemia cells and the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment. CXCR4 expression is associated with poor prognosis in AML patients with and without the mutated FLT3 gene.CXCL12 which is constrictively secreted from the BM stroma and AML cells is critical for the survival and retention of AML cells within the BM. In vitro, CXCR4 antagonists were shown to inhibit the migration of AML cells in response to CXCL12. In addition, such antagonists were shown to inhibit the survival and colony forming potential of AML cells and abrogate the protective effects of stromal cells on chemotherapy-induced apoptosis in AML cells. In vivo, using immune deficient mouse models, CXCR4 antagonists were found to induce the mobilization of AML cells and progenitor cells into the circulation and enhance anti leukemic effects of chemotherapy. The hypothesis that CXCL12/CXCR4 interactions contribute to the resistance of AML cells to signal transduction inhibitor- and chemotherapy-induced apoptosis is currently being tested in a series of Phase I/II studies in humans.

Keywords: AML; Bone marrow; CXCL12; CXCR4; Microenvironment..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cellular Microenvironment / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / drug therapy
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / pathology*
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Stem Cell Niche / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Receptors, CXCR4