Interleukin-18 produced by bone marrow-derived stromal cells supports T-cell acute leukaemia progression

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Abstract

Development of novel therapies is critical for T-cell acute leukaemia (T-ALL). Here, we investigated the effect of inhibiting the MAPK/MEK/ERK pathway on T-ALL cell growth. Unexpectedly, MEK inhibitors (MEKi) enhanced growth of 70% of human T-ALL cell samples cultured on stromal cells independently of NOTCH activation and maintained their ability to propagatein vivo. Similar results were obtained when T-ALL cells were cultured withERK1/2-knockdown stromal cells or with conditioned medium from MEKi-treated stromal cells. Microarray analysis identified interleukin 18 (IL-18) as transcriptionally up-regulated in MEKi-treated MS5 cells. Recombinant IL-18 promoted T-ALL growthin vitro, whereas the loss of function of IL-18 receptor in T-ALL blast cells decreased blast proliferationin vitroand in NSG mice. The NFKB pathway that is downstream to IL-18R was activated by IL-18 in blast cells. IL-18 circulating levels were increased in T-ALL-xenografted mice and also in T-ALL patients in comparison with controls. This study uncovers a novel role of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-18 and outlines the microenvironment involvement in human T-ALL development.

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