Bone marrow stromal cells constitute a heterogeneous population, and in the present study we investigated intercellular crosstalk via release of soluble mediators between native human AML blasts and fibroblasts/osteoblasts. Coculture of nonleukemic stromal cells and AML blasts separated by a semipermeable membrane decreased proliferation of the fibroblast line HFL1, and the inhibition was maintained when HFL1 and AML cells were cultured in direct contact. A similar inhibitory effect was observed for osteoblastic sarcoma cell lines (Cal72, SJSA-1) and normal osteoblasts. GM-CSF was released by both nonleukemic cells and a subset of AML blast populations, and increased levels of GM-CSF were detected in AML cocultures with fibroblasts and osteoblastic sarcoma cells when testing AML cell populations with constitutive GM-CSF release. Furthermore, constitutive IL-1β secretion by AML blasts was detected only for a subset of patients, whereas relatively high levels of IL-1RA were observed for all patients; coculture of AML blasts with HFL1 fibroblasts and osteoblastic sarcoma cells increased IL-1β levels for patients with constitutive IL-1β secretion, whereas IL-1RA levels were slightly decreased but still generally higher than IL-1β levels (tested only for HFL1 fibroblasts). The bidirectional crosstalk between AML blasts and stromal cells with increased release of AML growth factors may be important in leukemogenesis, whereas the decreased stromal cell proliferation combined with the persistent release of IL-1RA may in addition inhibit remaining normal hematopoiesis and thereby contribute to bone marrow failure in AML. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.