Biological, functional and genetic characterization of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells from pediatric patients affected by acute lymphoblastic leukemia

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 7;8(11):e76989. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0076989. eCollection 2013.


Alterations in hematopoietic microenvironment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients have been claimed to occur, but little is known about the components of marrow stroma in these patients. In this study, we characterized mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) isolated from bone marrow (BM) of 45 pediatric patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL-MSCs) at diagnosis (day+0) and during chemotherapy treatment (days: +15; +33; +78), the time points being chosen according to the schedule of BM aspirates required by the AIEOP-BFM ALL 2009 treatment protocol. Morphology, proliferative capacity, immunophenotype, differentiation potential, immunomodulatory properties and ability to support long-term hematopoiesis of ALL-MSCs were analysed and compared with those from 41 healthy donors (HD-MSCs). ALL-MSCs were also genetically characterized through array-CGH, conventional karyotyping and FISH analysis. Moreover, we compared ALL-MSCs generated at day+0 with those isolated during chemotherapy. Morphology, immunophenotype, differentiation potential and in vitro life-span did not differ between ALL-MSCs and HD-MSCs. ALL-MSCs showed significantly lower proliferative capacity (p<0.001) and ability to support in vitro hematopoiesis (p = 0.04) as compared with HD-MSCs, while they had similar capacity to inhibit in vitro mitogen-induced T-cell proliferation (p = N.S.). ALL-MSCs showed neither the typical translocations carried by the leukemic clone (when present), nor other genetic abnormalities acquired during ex vivo culture. Our findings indicate that ALL-MSCs display reduced ability to proliferate and to support long-term hematopoiesis in vitro. ALL-MSCs isolated at diagnosis do not differ from those obtained during treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage*
  • Bone Marrow Cells* / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow Cells* / pathology
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Hematopoiesis / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells* / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells* / pathology
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma* / drug therapy
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma* / metabolism
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma* / pathology
  • Time Factors

Grant support

This work has been partly supported by grants from Istituto Superiore di Sanità (National Program on Stem Cells), MIUR (Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca, Progetti di Rilevante Interesse Nazionale, PRIN) and by the special grant “5×1000” from AIRC to FL; and grants from Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro (AIRC) IG9062 and Bando Giovani Ricercatori 2008 to MEB. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.