Effects of human FLT3 ligand on myeloid leukemia cell growth: Heterogeneity in response and synergy with other hematopoietic growth factors

W. Piacibello, L. Fubini, F. Sanavio, M. F. Brizzi, A. Severino, L. Garetto, A. Stacchini, L. Pegoraro, M. Aglietta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A novel hematopoietic growth factor for primitive hematopoietic progenitor cells, the ligand for the flt3/flk2 receptor, (FL), has been recently purified and its gene has been cloned. In the present study, we investigated the effects of FL on the proliferation and differentiation of normal and leukemic myeloid progenitor cells, We demonstrate that FL is a potent stimulator of the in vitro growth of granulocyte-macrophage colony- stimulating factor (GM-CSF), interleukie-3 (IL-3), or G-CSF-dependent granulocyte-macrophage committed precursors from Lin- CD34+ bone marrow cells of normal donors. By contrast, FL does not affect the growth of erythroid-committed progenitors even in the presence of erythropoietin. The effect of FL on the proliferation and on the in vitro growth of clonogenic leukemic precursor cells was studied in 54 acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cases. Fresh leukemia blasts from 36 of 45 patients with AML significantly responded to FL without any relation to the French-American-British (FAB) subtype. FL stimulated the proliferation of leukemic blasts in a dose- dependent fashion. Synergistic activities were seen when FL was combined with G-CSF, GM-CSF, IL-3, or stem cell factor (SCF). FL as a single factor induced or increased significantly colony formation by clonogenic precursor cells from 21 of 24 patients with AML. In the presence of suboptimal and optimal concentrations of G-CSF, GM-CSF, IL3, SCF, or a combination of all factors, FL strongly enhanced the number of leukemic colonies (up to 18-fold). We also evaluated the induction of tyrosine phosphorylated protein on FL stimulation in fresh AML cells. We demonstrate that, on FL stimulation, a band of phosphorylated protein(s) of about 90 kD can be detected in FL-responsive, but not in FL-unresponsive cases. This study suggests that FL may be an important factor for the growth of myeloid leukemia cells, either as a direct stimulus or as a synergistic factor with other cytokines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4105-4114
Number of pages10
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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