Acute Myeloid Leukemia Stem Cells: Origin, Characteristics, and Clinical Implications

Stem Cell Rev Rep. 2022 Apr;18(4):1211-1226. doi: 10.1007/s12015-021-10308-6. Epub 2022 Jan 20.


The stem cells of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are the malignancy initiating cells whose survival ultimately drives growth of these lethal diseases. Here we review leukemia stem cell (LSC) biology, particularly as it relates to the very heterogeneous nature of AML and to its high disease relapse rate. Leukemia ontogeny is presented, and the defining functional and phenotypic features of LSCs are explored. Surface and metabolic phenotypes of these cells are described, particularly those that allow distinction from features of normal hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Opportunities for use of this information for improving therapy for this challenging group of diseases is highlighted, and we explore the clinical needs which may be addressed by emerging LSC data. Finally, we discuss current gaps in the scientific understanding of LSCs.

Keywords: Acute Myeloid Leukemia; Hematopoiesis; Leukemia; Leukemia Stem Cell.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute* / genetics
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute* / therapy
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells* / metabolism