Skin mesenchymal niches maintain and protect AML-initiating stem cells

J Exp Med. 2023 Oct 2;220(10):e20220953. doi: 10.1084/jem.20220953. Epub 2023 Jul 26.


Leukemia cutis or leukemic cell infiltration in skin is one of the common extramedullary manifestations of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and signifies a poorer prognosis. However, its pathogenesis and maintenance remain understudied. Here, we report massive AML cell infiltration in the skin in a transplantation-induced MLL-AF9 AML mouse model. These AML cells could regenerate AML after transplantation. Prospective niche characterization revealed that skin harbored mesenchymal progenitor cells (MPCs) with a similar phenotype as BM mesenchymal stem cells. These skin MPCs protected AML-initiating stem cells (LSCs) from chemotherapy in vitro partially via mitochondrial transfer. Furthermore, Lama4 deletion in skin MPCs promoted AML LSC proliferation and chemoresistance. Importantly, more chemoresistant AML LSCs appeared to be retained in Lama4-/- mouse skin after cytarabine treatment. Our study reveals the characteristics and previously unrecognized roles of skin mesenchymal niches in maintaining and protecting AML LSCs during chemotherapy, meriting future exploration of their impact on AML relapse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells*
  • Mice
  • Prospective Studies
  • Skin
  • Stem Cells