Unfavourable clinical implications for HLA-G expression in acute myeloid leukaemia

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Human leukocyte antigen-G (HLA-G) molecule exerts multiple immunoregulatory functions that have been suggested to contribute to the immune evasion of tumour cells. Studies on HLA-G expression in malignant haematopoietic diseases are controversial, and the functions of HLA-G on this context are limited. In the current study, HLA-G expression was analysed in different types of patients: de novo acute myeloid leukaemia (AML, n = 54), B cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (B-ALL, n= 13), chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML, n= 9) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS, n= 11). HLA-G expression was observed in 18.5% cases of AML, 22.2% in CML and 18.2% in MDS, but not in B-ALL patients. In AML, HLA-G-positive patients had a significant higher bone marrow leukaemic blast cell percentage when compared with that of HLA-G-negative patients (P < 0.01). Total T-cell percentage was dramatically decreased in HLA-G-positive patients (P < 0.05). Cytogenetic karyotyping results showed that all HLA-G-positive AML patients (n= 5) were cytogenetically abnormal, which was markedly different from that of HLA-G-negative patients (P < 0.01). Ex vivo cytotoxicity analysis revealed that HLA-G expression in AML leukaemic cells could directly inhibit NK cell cytolysis (P < 0.01). These findings indicated that HLA-G expression in AML is of unfavourable clinical implications, and that HLA-G could be a potential target for therapy.

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