• acute myeloid leukemia;
  • angiogenesis;
  • co-culture;
  • cytokine;
  • endothelial cells;
  • vascular smooth muscle cells


Increased bone marrow angiogenesis is seen in several hematological malignancies, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We used a co-culture assay of endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cells (vSMC) to investigate the effects of AML-conditioned medium on capillary networks. We investigated primary AML cells derived from 44 unselected patients and observed that for a large subset of patients, the constitutive cytokine release by the leukemic cells stimulated endothelial cell organization into capillary-like networks, while there were only minor or no effects for other patients. We analyzed the constitutive AML cell release of 31 cytokines for all the patients and performed a hierarchical cluster analysis of the cytokine profile which identified two major patient subsets that differed in their ability to enhance capillary-like networks; increased capillary-like networks was then associated with high constitutive release of several cytokines and especially high levels of several pro-angiogenic chemokines. Significantly increased network formation was not seen for any of the 11 acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients investigated. The cytokine response by activated normal T cells inhibited endothelial network formation in our in vitro model of angiogenesis and activated normal monocytes had only a minor influence on tube formation. Our study shows that AML-derived cytokines can induce the organization of endothelial cells into vessel-like structures.