PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles

Hematology - Oncology

Differential Bone Marrow Homing Capacity of VLA-4 and CD38 High Expressing Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Cells
Published: Thursday, August 18, 2011
Author: Gabriele Brachtl et al.

by Gabriele Brachtl, Karine Sahakyan, Ursula Denk, Tamara Girbl, Beate Alinger, Sebastian W. Hofbauer, Daniel Neureiter, Josefina Piñón Hofbauer, Alexander Egle, Richard Greil, Tanja Nicole Hartmann


VLA-4 and CD38 predict a poor clinical outcome in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). We used CLL samples with discordant VLA-4/CD38 risk to address their individual roles in human bone marrow infiltration (BM), CLL cell homing to murine BM, and in supportive CLL cell-stromal cell interactions.


VLA-4, CD38, and Ki-67 expression was measured in CLL cells from peripheral blood (PB) and bone marrow (BM) aspirates. CLL BM infiltration rates, routinely determined by Pathology, were correlated to VLA-4 and CD38 expression. Short-term homing capacity of CLL cells was evaluated by adoptive transfer experiments. CLL cell viability and adhesion in stromal cell co-culture was determined.


About 20% of CLL samples in our cohort displayed discordant VLA-4 and CD38 risk, with either high VLA-4 and low CD38 risk or vice versa. Using particularly such samples, we observed that VLA-4, and not CD38, was responsible for recirculation of CLL cells to murine BM. Human BM infiltration was also significantly higher in patients with high VLA-4 risk but not high CD38 risk. However, both molecules acted as independent prognostic markers. While both VLA-4 and CD38 expression were increased in BM-derived CLL cells, and VLA-4+ and CD38+ subpopulations showed enriched Ki-67 expression, VLA-4 did not contribute to CLL cell protection by stromal cells in vitro.


Our data argue for a prominent role of VLA-4 but not CD38 expression in the homing of CLL cells to BM niches and in human BM infiltration,but only a limited role in their protection by stromal cells.