DOI: 10.1182/blood-2023-178574 ISSN: 0006-4971

AML Inhibits Lipid Uptake By the Liver through an HGF/c-MET Dependent Mechanism Which Results in an Increased Supply of Free Fatty Acid to the Tumor

Rebecca S Maynard, Charlotte Hellmich, Katherine Hampton, Dominic Fowler-Shorten, Matthew Markham, Annalisa Altera, Thomas Flint, Ravindu De Silva, Naiara Beraza, Kristian Bowles, Stuart Rushworth
  • Cell Biology
  • Hematology
  • Immunology
  • Biochemistry

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) requires a high metabolic turnover to allow for constant expansion. We and others have previously shown that primary human AML blasts rely on fatty acid (FA)-oxidation for survival and proliferation. (Shafat MS, et al. 2017, Jones CL, et al. 2018). The liver plays a major role in carbohydrate, protein, amino acid, and lipid metabolism (Hodson L, and Gunn PJ. 2019). Given that AML is a FA dependent tumor, we have studied the interactions between AML and the liver, and specifically how these affect lipid metabolism, the availability of pro-tumoral FFA and ultimately the mechanism by which this supports AML growth.

To understand the role of lipid metabolism we used two syngeneic models of AML (HOXA9/Meis1 or MN1). When engrafted with AML cells, mice body weight during the latter stages of disease. After sacrifice, the size of epididymal and inguinal fat pads were significantly reduced in mice with AML compared to controls. Mice with AML also had elevated free fatty acid (FFA) and reduced glucose in the plasma. We and others have shown that AML induces lipolysis of white adipose tissue for uptake by blasts and resulting in tumor expansion (Shafat MS, et al. 2017, Ye H, et al. 2016). Since the liver is the master regulator of available FA in the plasma, we isolated livers from AML engrafted mice. Transcriptomics revealed down-regulation of genes involved in FA uptake and metabolism. RT-qPCR of RNA isolated from liver samples confirmed these results showing down-regulation of FA transport proteins, (FABP1, SLC27A2, SLC27A5, and CD36) and FA metabolism genes (CPT1, ACADM, and HMGCS2). Furthermore, primary hepatocytes isolated and cultured with AML conditioned media showed a down-regulation of FA uptake and metabolism genes. These data support the hypothesis that AML secretes a factor that alters lipid metabolism in the liver.

To discover the factor that AML secretes, and which regulates FA uptake and metabolism in the liver, a proteome profile of the serum from AML engrafted mice was compared to conditioned media from AML cultured cells. Pathway analysis revealed hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), IL-1B and Granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) as possible key factors involved in liver FA metabolism (Jing Y, et al. 2019, Kaibori M, et al. 2002). In vitro gene expressions analysis of primary hepatocytes revealed that addition of HGF to the medium, but not Il-1b or G-CSF, inhibited expression of FA uptake genes. In addition, using Seahorse mitochondrial stress kit we confirmed that primary hepatocytes decreased FA oxidation when cultured with AML conditioned media or HGF. Next, we confirmed that AML derived HGF was responsible for inhibition of hepatocyte FA genes by using a neutralizing antibody to HGF which blocked the transcriptional changes previously observed in hepatocytes cultured in AML conditioned media. This showed that AML derived HGF downregulates hepatocyte FA uptake and metabolism. Finally, to determine the role of AML in the uptake of FA by hepatocytes, cultures of primary murine hepatocytes were pretreated with AML conditioned media or HGF with and without neutralizing antibody. A BODIPY conjugated long chain FA was then added to the culture. Images analysis showed hepatocytes had reduced lipid uptake in the presence of AML condition media or HGF, but this was restored with the addition of HGF neutralizing antibody.

Here we report that AML inhibition of lipid uptake in the liver, through an HGF dependent mechanism, increases the availability of plasma FA and forms a fundamental part of the AML disease. Ongoing work to develop our understanding of how AML increases access to FA to aid proliferation, may aid in the development of new therapeutics to target liver metabolism in combination with other AML therapies.

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