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DOI: 10.1007/s12094-021-02621-w; PMCID: PMC8390401


The relapse rate for children with acute myeloid leukemia is nearly 40% despite aggressive chemotherapy and often stem cell transplant. We sought to understand how environment-induced signaling responses are associated with clinical response to treatment. We previously reported that patients whose AML cells showed low G-CSF-induced STAT3 activation had inferior event-free survival compared to patients with stronger STAT3 responses. Here, we expanded the paradigm to evaluate multiple signaling parameters induced by a more physiological stimulus. We measured STAT3, STAT5 and ERK1/2 responses to G-CSF and to stromal cell-conditioned medium for 113 patients enrolled on COG trials AAML03P1 and AAML0531. Low inducible STAT3 activity was independently associated with inferior event-free survival in multivariate analyses. For inducible STAT5 activity, those with the lowest and highest responses had inferior event-free survival, compared to patients with intermediate STAT5 responses. Using existing RNA-sequencing data, we compared gene expression profiles for patients with low inducible STAT3/5 activation with those for patients with higher inducible STAT3/5 signaling. Genes encoding hematopoietic factors and mitochondrial respiratory chain subunits were overexpressed in the low STAT3/5 response groups, implicating inflammatory and metabolic pathways as potential mechanisms of chemotherapy resistance. We validated the prognostic relevance of individual genes from the low STAT3/5 response signature in a large independent cohort of pediatric AML patients. These findings provide novel insights into interactions between AML cells and the microenvironment that are associated with treatment failure and could be targeted for therapeutic interventions.

Journal Title

Clin Transl Oncol





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Bone marrow stroma; Inflammation; Microenvironment; Pediatric AML; STAT3; STAT5.


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