Functional pathway analysis in acute myeloid leukemia using single cell network profiling assay: effect of specimen source (bone marrow or peripheral blood) on assay readouts.
ABSTRACT: Single cell network profiling (SCNP) is used to simultaneously measure the effects of modulators on signaling networks at the single cell level. SCNP-based biomarker assays predictive of response to induction therapy and relapse risk in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients are being developed. Such assays have typically used bone marrow (BM) as the sample source of blasts. Because circulating peripheral blasts are detectable in ?65% of AML patients and peripheral blood (PB) sampling is less invasive than BM sampling, this study was performed to assess the effect of sample source on AML blasts signaling as measured in SCNP assay.SCNP using multiparametric flow cytometry was used to evaluate the activation state of intracellular signaling molecules in leukemic blasts under basal conditions and after treatment with modulators in 46 pairs of BM mononuclear cells/PB mononuclear cells. The relationship between readouts of modulated intracellular proteins ("nodes") was measured using linear regression, Bland-Altman method, and Lin's concordance correlation coefficient.The majority (156/161) of signaling nodes show strong correlations between paired PB and BM samples independently from the statistical method used. Notable exceptions were two PB samples with almost undetectable levels of circulating blasts compared with paired BM samples.Our results demonstrate that specimen source (BM or PB) does not significantly affect proteomic signaling in patients with AML and circulating blasts. The ability to use PB as a sample source will facilitate the monitoring of cellular signaling effects following administration of targeted therapies and at time points when BM aspirates are not clinically justifiable.
Project description:Single-cell network profiling (SCNP) data generated from multi-parametric flow cytometry analysis of bone marrow (BM) and peripheral blood (PB) samples collected from patients >55 years old with non-M3 AML were used to train and validate a diagnostic classifier (DXSCNP) for predicting response to standard induction chemotherapy (complete response [CR] or CR with incomplete hematologic recovery [CRi] versus resistant disease [RD]). SCNP-evaluable patients from four SWOG AML trials were randomized between Training (N = 74 patients with CR, CRi or RD; BM set = 43; PB set = 57) and Validation Analysis Sets (N = 71; BM set = 42, PB set = 53). Cell survival, differentiation, and apoptosis pathway signaling were used as potential inputs for DXSCNP. Five DXSCNP classifiers were developed on the SWOG Training set and tested for prediction accuracy in an independent BM verification sample set (N = 24) from ECOG AML trials to select the final classifier, which was a significant predictor of CR/CRi (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve AUROC = 0.76, p = 0.01). The selected classifier was then validated in the SWOG BM Validation Set (AUROC = 0.72, p = 0.02). Importantly, a classifier developed using only clinical and molecular inputs from the same sample set (DXCLINICAL2) lacked prediction accuracy: AUROC = 0.61 (p = 0.18) in the BM Verification Set and 0.53 (p = 0.38) in the BM Validation Set. Notably, the DXSCNP classifier was still significant in predicting response in the BM Validation Analysis Set after controlling for DXCLINICAL2 (p = 0.03), showing that DXSCNP provides information that is independent from that provided by currently used prognostic markers. Taken together, these data show that the proteomic classifier may provide prognostic information relevant to treatment planning beyond genetic mutations and traditional prognostic factors in elderly AML.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Molecular characterization of the FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 receptor (FLT3) in cytogenetically normal acute myeloid leukemia (AML) has recently been incorporated into clinical guidelines based on correlations between FLT3 internal tandem duplications (FLT3-ITD) and decreased disease-free and overall survival. These mutations result in constitutive activation of FLT3, and FLT3 inhibitors are currently undergoing trials in AML patients selected on FLT3 molecular status. However, the transient and partial responses observed suggest that FLT3 mutational status alone does not provide complete information on FLT3 biological activity at the individual patient level. Examination of variation in cellular responsiveness to signaling modulation may be more informative. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Using single cell network profiling (SCNP), cells were treated with extracellular modulators and their functional responses were quantified by multiparametric flow cytometry. Intracellular signaling responses were compared between healthy bone marrow myeloblasts (BMMb) and AML leukemic blasts characterized as FLT3 wild type (FLT3-WT) or FLT3-ITD. Compared to healthy BMMb, FLT3-WT leukemic blasts demonstrated a wide range of signaling responses to FLT3 ligand (FLT3L), including elevated and sustained PI3K and Ras/Raf/Erk signaling. Distinct signaling and apoptosis profiles were observed in FLT3-WT and FLT3-ITD AML samples, with more uniform signaling observed in FLT3-ITD AML samples. Specifically, increased basal p-Stat5 levels, decreased FLT3L induced activation of the PI3K and Ras/Raf/Erk pathways, decreased IL-27 induced activation of the Jak/Stat pathway, and heightened apoptotic responses to agents inducing DNA damage were observed in FLT3-ITD AML samples. Preliminary analysis correlating these findings with clinical outcomes suggests that classification of patient samples based on signaling profiles may more accurately reflect FLT3 signaling deregulation and provide additional information for disease characterization and management. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: These studies show the feasibility of SCNP to assess modulated intracellular signaling pathways and characterize the biology of individual AML samples in the context of genetic alterations.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Single cell network profiling (SCNP) utilizing flow cytometry measures alterations in intracellular signaling responses. Here SCNP was used to characterize Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) disease subtypes based on survival, DNA damage response and apoptosis pathways.<h4>Methodology and principal findings</h4>Thirty four diagnostic non-M3 AML samples from patients with known clinical outcome were treated with a panel of myeloid growth factors and cytokines, as well as with apoptosis-inducing agents. Analysis of induced Jak/Stat and PI3K pathway responses in blasts from individual patient samples identified subgroups with distinct signaling profiles that were not seen in the absence of a modulator. In vitro exposure of patient samples to etoposide, a DNA damaging agent, revealed three distinct "DNA damage response (DDR)/apoptosis" profiles: 1) AML blasts with a defective DDR and failure to undergo apoptosis; 2) AML blasts with proficient DDR and failure to undergo apoptosis; 3) AML blasts with proficiency in both DDR and apoptosis pathways. Notably, AML samples from clinical responders fell within the "DDR/apoptosis" proficient profile and, as well, had low PI3K and Jak/Stat signaling responses. In contrast, samples from clinical non responders had variable signaling profiles often with in vitro apoptotic failure and elevated PI3K pathway activity. Individual patient samples often harbored multiple, distinct, leukemia-associated cell populations identifiable by their surface marker expression, functional performance of signaling pathway in the face of cytokine or growth factor stimulation, as well as their response to apoptosis-inducing agents.<h4>Conclusions and significance</h4>Characterizing and tracking changes in intracellular pathway profiles in cell subpopulations both at baseline and under therapeutic pressure will likely have important clinical applications, potentially informing the selection of beneficial targeted agents, used either alone or in combination with chemotherapy.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Circulating blasts (peripheral blood [PB] blasts) ≥1% have long been considered an unfavorable feature for patients with primary myelofibrosis. Whether further quantification of PB blasts and their correlation with bone marrow (BM) blasts have incremental value with regard to patient prognostication is unclear. Similarly, the role of the JAK1/JAK2 inhibitor ruxolitinib (RUX) is not well defined in patients who have increased blasts.<h4>Methods</h4>The authors retrospectively studied 1316 patients with myelofibrosis who presented at their institution between 1984 and 2018 and had available PB and BM blasts.<h4>Results</h4>The PB blast percentage influenced overall survival (OS) only among patients who had BM blasts <5%, with a median OS of 64 months for patients with 0% PB blasts, 48 months for those with 1% to 3% PB blasts, and 22 months for those with 4% PB blasts (P < .01). Patients who had 4% PB blasts and 5% to 9% BM/PB blasts had clinical features similar to those of patients who had 10% to 19% blasts. Although the OS of the former patients was longer than in patients who had 10% to 19% blasts, it was not statistically different (median OS: 22, 26, and 13 months, respectively; P > .05). Forty-four percent of patients received RUX throughout their disease course. All patients who had <10% blasts (PB or BM) and received treatment with RUX had superior OS compared with those who did not receive RUX within the same group. PB blasts ≥4% and BM blasts ≥5% were significant for predicting inferior survival in multivariate analysis.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The current results provide comprehensive insight into the role of peripheral blasts in patients with myelofibrosis and indicates that patients who have PB blasts ≥4% have an unfavorable prognosis. RUX provides a survival benefit to patients who have PB blasts <10%.
Project description:Treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains suboptimal and many patients remain refractory or relapse upon standard chemotherapy based on nucleoside analogs plus anthracyclines. The crosstalk between AML cells and the BM stroma is a major mechanism underlying therapy resistance in AML. Lenalidomide and pomalidomide, a new generation immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs), possess pleiotropic anti-leukemic properties including potent immune-modulating effects and are commonly used in hematological malignances associated with intrinsic dysfunctional BM such as myelodysplastic syndromes and multiple myeloma. Whether IMiDs may improve the efficacy of current standard treatment in AML remains understudied. Here, we have exploited in vitro and in vivo preclinical AML models to analyze whether IMiDs potentiate the efficacy of AraC/Idarubicin-based standard AML chemotherapy by interfering with the BM stroma-mediated chemoresistance. We report that IMiDs do not exert cytotoxic effects on either non-del5q/5q- AML cells nor BM-MSCs, but they enhance the immunomodulatory properties of BM-MSCs. When combined with AraC/Idarubicin, IMiDs fail to circumvent BM stroma-mediated resistance of non-del5q/5q- AML cells in vitro and in vivo but induce robust extramedullary mobilization of AML cells. When administered as a single agent, lenalidomide specifically mobilizes non-del5q/5q- AML cells, but not healthy CD34+ cells, to peripheral blood (PB) through specific downregulation of CXCR4 in AML blasts. Global gene expression profiling supports a migratory/mobilization gene signature in lenalidomide-treated non-del5q/5q- AML blasts but not in CD34+ cells. Collectively, IMiDs mobilize non-del5q/5q- AML blasts to PB through CXCR4 downregulation, but fail to potentiate AraC/Idarubicin activity in preclinical models of non-del5q/5q- AML.
Project description:T cell based immunotherapies can be applicable to acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Therefore, the selection of optimal T cells, cell manufacturing, and therapeutic T cell engineering are essential for the development of effective adoptive T cell therapies for AML. Autologous tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) have been in clinical trials to treat solid malignancies. Herein, we assessed whether TILs can be isolated from the bone marrow (BM) of AML patients, expanded ex vivo and utilized as a novel therapeutic strategy for AML. To this end, firstly we analyzed the immunophenotypes of a series of primary BM samples from AML patients (N = 10) by flow cytometry. We observed a variable amount of CD3+ TILs (range ∼2.3-∼32.6% of mononuclear cells) among BM samples. We then developed a novel protocol that produced a three-log ex vivo expansion of TILs isolated from AML patient BM (N = 10) and peripheral blood (PB) (N = 10), including from patients with a low number of CD3+ T cells, within 3, 4 weeks. Further, we identified previously described naïve T cells (CCR7+CD95-/or CD62L+CD45RA+) in AML BM and PB samples, which seemed to be required for a successful TILs ex vivo expansion. Finally, we showed that the expanded TILs could: (1) cause cytotoxicity to autologous AML blasts ex vivo (90.6% in control without T cell treatment vs. 1.89% in experimental groups with PB derived T cells and 1.77% in experimental groups with BM derived TILs, p < 0.01), (2) be genetically engineered to express CYP27B1 gene, and (3) infiltrate the BM and reside in close proximity to pre-injected autologous AML blasts of engrafted immunodeficiency mice. Altogether, these results provide a rationale for further studies of the therapeutic use of TILs in AML.
Project description:FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 receptor (FLT3) internal tandem duplication (ITD) mutations result in constitutive activation of this receptor and have been shown to increase the risk of relapse in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML); however, substantial heterogeneity in clinical outcomes still exists within both the ITD mutated and unmutated AML subgroups, suggesting alternative mechanisms of disease relapse not accounted by FLT3 mutational status. Single cell network profiling (SCNP) is a multiparametric flow cytometry based assay that simultaneously measures, in a quantitative fashion and at the single cell level, both extracellular surface marker levels and changes in intracellular signaling proteins in response to extracellular modulators. We previously reported an initial characterization of FLT3 ITD-mediated signaling using SCNP. Herein SCNP was applied sequentially to two separate cohorts of samples collected from elderly AML patients at diagnosis. In the first (training) study, AML samples carrying unmutated, wild-type FLT3 (FLT3 WT) displayed a wide range of induced signaling, with a fraction having signaling profiles comparable to FLT3 ITD AML samples. Conversely, the FLT3 ITD AML samples displayed more homogeneous induced signaling, with the exception of patients with low (<40%) mutational load, which had profiles comparable to FLT3 WT AML samples. This observation was then confirmed in an independent (verification) cohort. Data from the second cohort were also used to assess the association between SCNP data and disease-free survival (DFS) in the context of FLT3 and nucleophosmin (NPM1) mutational status among patients who achieved complete remission (CR) to induction chemotherapy. The combination of SCNP read outs together with FLT3 and NPM1 molecular status improved the DFS prediction accuracy of the latter. Taken together, these results emphasize the value of comprehensive functional assessment of biologically relevant signaling pathways in AML as a basis for the development of highly predictive tests for guidance of post-remission therapy.
Project description:Nucleophosmin(NPM1)-mutated protein, a leukemia-specific antigen, represents an ideal target for AML immunotherapy. We investigated the dynamics of NPM1-mutated-specific T cells on PB and BM samples, collected from 31 adult <i>NPM1</i>-mutated AML patients throughout the disease course, and stimulated with mixtures of 18 short and long peptides (9-18mers), deriving from the complete C-terminal of the NPM1-mutated protein. Two 9-mer peptides, namely LAVEEVSLR and AVEEVSLRK (13.9-14.9), were identified as the most immunogenic epitopes. IFN?-producing NPM1-mutated-specific T cells were observed by ELISPOT assay after stimulation with peptides 13.9-14.9 in 43/85 (50.6%) PB and 34/80 (42.5%) BM samples. An inverse correlation between MRD kinetics and anti-leukemic specific T cells was observed. Cytokine Secretion Assays allowed to predominantly and respectively identify Effector Memory and Central Memory T cells among IFN?-producing and IL2-producing T cells. Moreover, NPM1-mutated-specific CTLs against primary leukemic blasts or PHA-blasts pulsed with different peptide pools could be expanded <i>ex vivo</i> from <i>NPM1</i>-mutated AML patients or primed in healthy donors. We describe the spontaneous appearance and persistence of <i>NPM1</i>-mutated-specific T cells, which may contribute to the maintenance of long-lasting remissions. Future studies are warranted to investigate the potential role of both autologous and allogeneic adoptive immunotherapy in <i>NPM1</i>-mutated AML patients.
Project description:Single Cell Network Profiling (SCNP) is a multiparametric flow cytometry-based assay that quantifiably and simultaneously measures changes in intracellular signaling proteins in response to in vitro extracellular modulators at the single cell level. Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is a heterogeneous clonal disorder of hematopoietic stem cells that occurs in elderly subjects and is characterized by dysplasia and ineffective hematopoiesis. The functional responsiveness of MDS bone marrow (BM) hematopoietic cells, including functionally distinct myeloid and erythroid precursor subsets, to hematopoietic growth factors (HGF) and the relationship of modulated signaling to disease characteristics is poorly understood.SCNP was used first to examine the effects of age on erythropoietin (EPO) and granulocyte colony stimulating factor (GCSF)-induced signaling in myeloid, nucleated red blood cells (nRBC), and CD34 expressing cell subsets in healthy BM (n?=?15). SCNP was then used to map functional signaling profiles in low risk (LR) MDS (n?=?7) for comparison to signaling in samples from healthy donors and to probe signaling associations within clinically defined subgroups.In healthy BM samples, signaling responses to HGF were quite homogeneous (i.e., tightly regulated) with age-dependent effects observed in response to EPO but not to GCSF. Despite the relatively small number of samples assayed in the study, LR MDS could be classified into distinct subgroups based on both cell subset frequency and signaling profiles.As a correlate of underlying genetic abnormalities, signal transduction analyses may provide a functional and potentially clinically relevant classification of MDS. Further evaluation in a larger cohort is warranted.
Project description:Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a fatal disease characterized by the accumulation of immature myeloid blasts in the bone marrow (BM). Cytokine provide signals for leukemia cells to improve their survival in the BM microenvironment. Previously, we identified interleukin-33 (IL-33) as a promoter of cell survival in a human AML cell line and primary mouse leukemia cells. In this study, we report that the cell surface expression of IL-33-specific receptor, Interleukin 1 Receptor Like 1 (IL1RL1), is elevated in BM cells from AML patients at diagnosis, and the serum level of IL-33 in AML patients is higher than that of healthy donor controls. Moreover, IL-33 levels are found to be positively associated with IL-6 levels in pediatric patients with AML. <i>In vitro</i>, IL-33 treatment increased IL-6 mRNA expression and protein level in BM and peripheral blood (PB) cells from AML patients. Evidence was also provided that IL-33 inhibits cell apoptosis by activating p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway using human AML cell line and AML patient samples. Finally, we confirmed that IL-33 activated IL-6 expression in a manner that required p38 MAPK pathway using clinical AML samples. Taken together, we identified a potential mechanism of IL-33-mediated survival involving p38 MAPK in pediatric AML patients that would facilitate future drug development.