CXC chemokine ligand-12 (CXCL12) downregulation is an independent predictor of poor prognosis in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), according to research published in PeerJ.

Previous studies have found an association between CXCL12 and AML, and the study authors sought to better understand the significance of the gene as a prognostic biomarker. The authors used public datasets from Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA).

Patients with AML had lower CXCL12 expression when compared with cells from healthy controls. Patients with low CXCL12 expression had higher white blood cell (WBC) counts, a higher percentage of blasts in bone marrow and peripheral blood. These patients were also more likely to have NPM1 mutations and FLT3-internal tandem duplications.

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Analyzing data from 3 independent cohorts, the study authors found that patients with AML and low CXCL12 expression had lower overall survival (OS; P =.013) and lower event-free survival (EFS; P =.0001).

CXCL12 expression was also related to immune cell infiltration. Patients with high CXCL12 expression tended to have more memory B cells and plasma cell infiltration. Patients with low CXCL12 had more eosinophils infiltration.

Further research is needed to understand the pathological role of CXCL12 in AML. The current study is limited by the use of public datasets and the authors did not carry out subsequent experiments for validation. Follow-up studies, such as protein level verification, would further validate the results.

Overall, the analysis found that patients with AML have significantly downregulated CXCL12, which is a predictor of poor clinical outcomes. The association between CXCL12 and immune cells could open up new opportunities for targeted drugs and immunotherapy for AML in the future.

Wang SS, Xu ZJ, Jin Y, et al. Clinical and prognostic relevance of CXCL12 expression in acute myeloid leukemia. PeerJ. 2021;9:e11820. doi:10.7717/peerj.11820