Journal of experimental & clinical cancer research : CR 2018 03 2237(1) 66 doi 10.1186/s13046-018-0738-y
The adipocyte remodeling, including of the morphological change, might indicate special pathological function. Our previous study found that the morphological remodeling of larger marrow adipocytes into small marrow adipocytes correlates with a poor prognosis for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. However, the mechanisms contributed to the marrow adipocyte remodeling are still poorly understood.
GDF15 expression was analyzed by RT-qPCR and western blotting assays in the leukemic cells. The enhancing and antibody neutralization tests in vitro were employed to evaluate the effect of GDF15 on the morphology of mature adipocytes. CCK8 test was used to detect the proliferation of leukemic cells after co-cultivation with small marrow adipocytes. Flow cytometry was used to analysis the proportion of cell cycle of leukemic cells. Immunofluorescence staining and linear analysis were applied to verify the GDF15 expression and the relationship between GDF15 and small marrow adipocytes in AML patients.
In this study, we found that leukemic cell lines not only expressed significantly higher growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15) than the other three cytokines associated with adipocyte differentiation in RNA level but also secreted GDF15 factor. Furthermore, the in vitro experiments demonstrated that GDF15 was involved in the conversion of small marrow adipocytes from larger marrow adipocytes. Correspondingly, the leukemic cells proliferated more rapidly through regulating the cell cycle when co-cultured with GDF15-induced small marrow adipocytes. The immunofluorescence staining on the bone marrow sections of AML patients further exhibited that GDF15 was partly produced by leukemic cells. The positive correlation between the concentration of GDF15 in the marrow aspirates and the number and the volume of small marrow adipocytes might suggest the contribution of GDF15 in AML patients (r = 0.72, r = 0.67).
GDF15 secreted by leukemic cells was involved in the morphological remodeling of marrow adipocytes, which can in turn promote leukemic cell growth, indicating that GDF15 may be a promising treatment target for AML patients.