Targeting leukemia stem cells in vivo with antagomiR-126 nanoparticles in acute myeloid leukemia.

Dorrance AM, Neviani P, Ferenchak GJ, Huang X, Nicolet D, Maharry KS, Ozer HG, Hoellarbauer P, Khalife J, Hill EB, Yadav M, Bolon BN, Lee RJ, Lee LJ, Croce CM, Garzon R, Caligiuri MA, Bloomfield CD, Marcucci G
Leukemia 29 2143-53 11/01/2015


Current treatments for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are designed to target rapidly dividing blast populations with limited success in eradicating the functionally distinct leukemia stem cell (LSC) population, which is postulated to be responsible for disease resistance and relapse. We have previously reported high miR-126 expression levels to be associated with a LSC-gene expression profile. Therefore, we hypothesized that miR-126 contributes to 'stemness' and is a viable target for eliminating the LSC in AML. Here we first validate the clinical relevance of miR-126 expression in AML by showing that higher expression of this microRNA (miR) is associated with worse outcome in a large cohort of older (⩾60 years) cytogenetically normal AML patients treated with conventional chemotherapy. We then show that miR-126 overexpression characterizes AML LSC-enriched cell subpopulations and contributes to LSC long-term maintenance and self-renewal. Finally, we demonstrate the feasibility of therapeutic targeting of miR-126 in LSCs with novel targeting nanoparticles containing antagomiR-126 resulting in in vivo reduction of LSCs likely by depletion of the quiescent cell subpopulation. Our findings suggest that by targeting a single miR, that is, miR-126, it is possible to interfere with LSC activity, thereby opening potentially novel therapeutic approaches to treat AML patients.

Full Text