Dynamic chemotherapy-induced upregulation of CXCR4 expression: A mechanism of therapeutic resistance in pediatric AML

Edward Allan R. Sison, Emily McIntyre, Daniel Magoon, Patrick Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Cure rates in pediatric acute leukemias remain suboptimal. Overexpression of the cell-surface chemokine receptor CXCR4 is associated with poor outcome in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Certain nonchemotherapeutic agents have been shown to modulate CXCR4 expression and alter leukemia interactions with stromal cells in the bone marrow microenvironment. Because chemotherapy is the mainstay of AML treatment, it was hypothesized that standard cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agents induce dynamic changes in leukemia surface CXCR4 expression, and that chemotherapy-induced upregulation of CXCR4 represents a mechanism of acquired therapeutic resistance. Here, it was shown that cell lines variably upregulate CXCR4 with chemotherapy treatment. Those that showed upregulation were differentially protected from chemotherapyinduced apoptosis when cocultured with stroma. The functional effects of chemotherapy-induced CXCR4 upregulation in an AML cell line (MOLM-14, which harbors consistent upregulated CXCR4) and clinical specimens were explored. Importantly, enhanced stromal-cell derived factor-1a (SDF1A/CXCL12)-mediated chemotaxis and stromal protection from additional chemotherapy-induced apoptosis was found. Furthermore, treatment with plerixafor, a CXCR4 inhibitor, preferentially decreased stromal protection with higher chemotherapy-induced upregulation of surface CXCR4. Thus, increased chemokine receptor CXCR4 expression after treatment with conventional chemotherapy may represent a mechanism of therapeutic resistance in pediatric AML. Implications: CXCR4 may be a biomarker for the stratification and optimal treatment of patients using CXCR4 inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1004-1016
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Cancer Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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