Role of CXCL12 and CXCR4 in the pathogenesis of hematological malignancies

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The chemokine receptor CXCR4 and its ligand stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1/CXCL12) are important players in the cross-talk among lymphoma, myeloma and leukemia cells and their microenvironments. In hematological malignancies and solid tumors, the overexpression of CXCR4 on the cell surface has been shown to be responsible for disease progression, increasing tumor cell survival and chemoresistance and metastasis to organs with high CXCL12 levels (e.g., lymph nodes and bone marrow (BM)). Furthermore, the overexpression of CXCR4 has been found to have prognostic significance for disease progression in many type of tumors including lymphoma, leukemia, glioma, and prostate, breast, colorectal, renal, and hepatocellular carcinomas. In leukemia, CXCR4 expression granted leukemic blasts a higher capacity to seed into BM niches, thereby protecting leukemic cells from chemotherapy-induced apoptosis, and was correlated with shorter disease-free survival. In contrast, neutralizing the interaction of CXCL12/CXCR4 with a variety of antagonists induced apoptosis and differentiation and increased the chemosensitivity of lymphoma, myeloma, and leukemia cells. The role of CXCL12 and CXCR4 in the pathogenesis of hematological malignancies and the clinical therapeutic potential of CXCR4 antagonists in these diseases is discussed.

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