LXR agonist treatment of blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm restores cholesterol efflux and triggers apoptosis.

PMID 27702801


Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell (PDC) neoplasm (BPDCN) is an aggressive hematological malignancy with a poor prognosis that derives from PDCs. No consensus for optimal treatment modalities is available today and the full characterization of this leukemia is still emerging. We identified here a BPDCN-specific transcriptomic profile when compared with those of acute myeloid leukemia and T-acute lymphoblastic leukemia, as well as the transcriptomic signature of primary PDCs. This BPDCN gene signature identified a dysregulation of genes involved in cholesterol homeostasis, some of them being liver X receptor (LXR) target genes. LXR agonist treatment of primary BPDCN cells and BPDCN cell lines restored LXR target gene expression and increased cholesterol efflux via the upregulation of adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette (ABC) transporters, ABCA1 and ABCG1. LXR agonist treatment was responsible for limiting BPDCN cell proliferation and inducing intrinsic apoptotic cell death. LXR activation in BPDCN cells was shown to interfere with 3 signaling pathways associated with leukemic cell survival, namely: NF-κB activation, as well as Akt and STAT5 phosphorylation in response to the BPDCN growth/survival factor interleukin-3. These effects were increased by the stimulation of cholesterol efflux through a lipid acceptor, the apolipoprotein A1. In vivo experiments using a mouse model of BPDCN cell xenograft revealed a decrease of leukemic cell infiltration and BPDCN-induced cytopenia associated with increased survival after LXR agonist treatment. This demonstrates that cholesterol homeostasis is modified in BPDCN and can be normalized by treatment with LXR agonists which can be proposed as a new therapeutic approach.