Leukemic cells disrupt normal patterns of blood cell formation, but little is understood about the mechanism. We investigated whether leukemic cells alter functions of normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. Exposure to chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) caused normal mouse hematopoietic progenitor cells to divide more readily, altered their differentiation, and reduced their reconstitution and self-renewal potential. Interestingly, the normal bystander cells acquired gene expression patterns resembling their malignant counterparts. Therefore, much of the leukemia signature is mediated by extrinsic factors. Indeed, IL-6 was responsible for most of these changes. Compatible results were obtained when human CML were cultured with normal human hematopoietic progenitor cells. Furthermore, neutralization of IL-6 prevented these changes and treated the disease.
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