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School of Pharmacy


Pharmaceutical Sciences


The bone marrow (BM) microenvironment (niche) plays important roles in supporting normal/abnormal haematopoiesis. We investigated the interaction between leukaemic mesenchymal niche and haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) using the model of Fanconi anaemia (FA), a genetic disorder characterized by BM failure and leukaemia. Healthy donor HSPCs co‐cultured on mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) derived from FA patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) exhibited higher human engraftment and myeloid expansion in Non‐obese diabetic severe combined immunodeficiency IL‐2γ−/−/SGM3 recipients. Untargeted metabolomics analysis revealed the progressively elevated prostaglandins (PGs) in the MSCs of FA patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and AML. Reduced secretion of PGs subsequent to inflammatory cyclooxygenase 2 (COX2) inhibition ameliorated HSPC/myeloid expansion. Transcriptome analysis demonstrated dysregulation of genes involved in the NR4A family of transcription factors (TFs) and WNT/β‐catenin signalling pathway in FA‐AML‐MSC‐co‐cultured‐CD34+ cells. COX2 inhibition led to significantly decreased NR4A TFs and WNT signalling genes expression. Mechanistically, NR4A1 and NR4A2 synergistically activate the CTNNB1 gene promoter . Knocking down CTNNB1 or NR4A1 in AML‐MSC‐co‐cultured‐CD34+ cells increased leukaemia‐reactive T‐effector cells production and rescued anti‐leukaemia immunity. Together, these findings suggest that specific interactions between leukaemic mesenchymal niche and HSPCs orchestrate a novel COX2/PG‐NR4A/WNT signalling axis, connecting inflammation, cellular metabolism and cancer immunity.

Source Citation

Wu L, Amarachintha S, Xu J, Oley F Jr, Du W. Mesenchymal COX2-PG secretome engages NR4A-WNT signalling axis in haematopoietic progenitors to suppress anti-leukaemia immunity. British Journal of Haematology. 2018;183(3):445-456. doi:10.1111/bjh.15548