Adhesion Deregulation in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia

Alicja M Gruszka, Debora Valli, Cecilia Restelli, Myriam Alcalay

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Cell adhesion is a process through which cells interact with and attach to neighboring cells or matrix using specialized surface cell adhesion molecules (AMs). Adhesion plays an important role in normal haematopoiesis and in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). AML blasts express many of the AMs identified on normal haematopoietic precursors. Differential expression of AMs between normal haematopoietic cells and leukaemic blasts has been documented to a variable extent, likely reflecting the heterogeneity of the disease. AMs govern a variety of processes within the bone marrow (BM), such as migration, homing, and quiescence. AML blasts home to the BM, as the AM-mediated interaction with the niche protects them from chemotherapeutic agents. On the contrary, they detach from the niches and move from the BM into the peripheral blood to colonize other sites, i.e., the spleen and liver, possibly in a process that is reminiscent of epithelial-to-mesenchymal-transition in metastatic solid cancers. The expression of AMs has a prognostic impact and there are ongoing efforts to therapeutically target adhesion in the fight against leukaemia.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 17 2019


  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules/metabolism
  • Cell Movement
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute/pathology
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells/pathology


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