Marrow stromal cells (MSCs) provide important survival and drug resistance signals to chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells, but current models to analyze CLL-MSC interactions are heterogeneous. Therefore, we tested different human and murine MSC lines and primary human MSCs for their ability to protect CLL cells from spontaneous and drug-induced apoptosis. Our results show that both human and murine MSCs are equally effective in protecting CLL cells from fludarabine-induced apoptosis. This protective effect was sustained over a wide range of CLL-MSC ratios (5:1 to 100:1), and the levels of protection were reproducible in 4 different laboratories. Human and murine MSCs also protected CLL cells from dexamethasone- and cyclo-phosphamide-induced apoptosis. This protection required cell-cell contact and was virtually absent when CLL cells were separated from the MSCs by micropore filters. Furthermore, MSCs maintained Mcl-1 and protected CLL cells from spontaneous and fludarabine-induced Mcl-1 and PARP cleavage. Collectively, these studies define common denominators for CLL cocultures with MSCs. They also provide a reliable, validated tool for future investigations into the mechanism of MSC-CLL cross talk and for drug testing in a more relevant fashion than the commonly used suspension cultures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology