Adult T-cell leukemia (ATL), a heterogeneous disease, can be divided into smoldering, chronic, lymphoma, and acute types clinically. In addition to different clinical manifestations, different stages of ATL have different molecular signatures. Here, we demonstrated that smoldering/chronic ATL peripheral blood mononuclear cells spontaneously proliferated ex vivo in a cytokine (interleukin-12 [IL-12]/IL-9/IL-15)-dependent manner, while acute-type ATL peripheral blood mononuclear cells did not proliferate or proliferated independent of cytokines. Smoldering/chronic ATL cells produced IL-2 and IL-9 in 6-day ex vivo cultures. Interestingly, the addition of an anti-IL-2R-α monoclonal antibody profoundly inhibited IL-9 expression, suggesting optimal expression of IL-9 was dependent on IL-2 signaling in these patients. To determine whether there would be autonomous proliferation of ATL leukemic cells, we purified leukemic cells from patients with smoldering/chronic ATL. Purified leukemic cells cultured alone produced IL-2/IL-9, and the downstream Janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription pathway was activated. However, the leukemic cells did not proliferate independently, but required coculture with autologous monocytes to induce proliferation. Moreover, interaction between leukemic cells and monocytes was contact dependent, and major histocompatibility complex class II expression may have contributed to this interaction. In conclusion, our data provide evidence that there is autocrine/paracrine cytokine stimulation of leukemic cell proliferation in patients with smoldering/chronic ATL that could be targeted for treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology