Infant leukaemia – faithful models, cell of origin, and the niche

ALASDAIR DUGUID, Domenico Mattiucci, Katrin Ottersbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

For patients and their families, the diagnosis of infant leukaemia is devastating. This disease has not seen the improvements in outcomes experienced with other paediatric leukaemias and it is becoming ever more apparent that infant leukaemia is a distinct biological entity. Insights into some of the distinguishing features of infant leukaemia, such as a single mutation – the MLL-gene rearrangement, the biology of disease aggressiveness and lineage plasticity, and the high incidence of central nervous system involvement, are likely to be gained from understanding the interactions between leukaemic cells and their environment or niche. The origins of infant leukaemia lie in the embryonic haematopoietic system, which is characterised by shifting locations and dynamic changes in the microenvironment. Understanding this foetal or embryonic context is integral to understanding infant leukaemia development. Owing to its rarity and prenatal origins, developing accurate modelling systems for further investigation of infant leukaemia is essential. In this Review, we discuss how available in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo infant leukaemia models contribute to our current understanding of the leukaemia niche in embryonic development, established disease and specialised non-haematopoietic niches. The mechanistic insights provided by accurate models will help identify viable novel therapeutic options.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDisease Models and Mechanisms
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2021


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