Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common diagnosed adult leukemia, the median age of patients with AML is about 70 years. Although the prognosis for younger adults with AML has improved during the last four decades, there has been little progress in the treatment of older adults. Currently, approximately 90% of adults with AML over the age of 55 will die due to resistance to therapy, relapse, or complications from harsh treatments such as chemotherapy. AML disease progression is heavily influenced by supportive cells in the tumor microenvironment. Bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (BMSCs) are an instrumental extrinsic component to normal hematopoiesis which are hijacked by leukemic cells in the process of leukemia development. Based on AML being mainly a disease of older adults and evidence of an accelerated aging phenotype in the (BM) microenvironment of AML, this proposal aims to investigate the role of aging and senescence in AML disease progression and to ultimately identify therapeutic targets and eliminate the leukemia-supportive aging phenotype in the BM. Although epigenetic aging and senescence are two distinct but parallel mechanisms of aging, they have been shown to converge where certain triggers of senescence can affect epigenetic age. The molecular basis for age-related alterations in AML-derived BMSCs are poorly described and if deciphered, could have significant implication on both the prevention and treatment of elderly AML. Moreover, the correlation of epigenetic age in cells of the AML tumor microenvironment with outcome has not been examined. Thus, the specific aims of this proposal are to (1) examine epigenetic, transcriptional and phenotypic differences in BMSCs derived from AML patients, compared to age matched control BSMCs, enabled by the use of methylation studies, sequencing, mass cytometry and biochemical assays (2) determine the epigenetic age via methylation analysis of different components of the tumor microenvironment (T-cells, tumor cells and BMSC cells) in AML patient samples and correlate with disease outcome and finally, (3) utilize findings and techniques developed in aim 1 and 2 to study the status of epigenetic aging and senescence in in vitro and in vivo models of accelerated aging and relapse to determine if they can be therapeutically targeted. The completion of this work will potentially provide a quantitative measure of senescence in elderly AML patients, further enhance risk stratification, and will help identify novel age-related targets in AML-BMSC with potential to lead to development of new therapies.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a leukemia that is incurable and frequently results in death in older adults. Aging and chronic senescence are believed to promote disease progression and relapse. This study proposes to investigate drivers of aging and senescence in the microenvironment of AML with the aim of providing a quantitative measure of senescence in elderly AML patients and identifying novel therapeutic targets that can positively influence the treatment course of this devastating disease.