Identification of Chemotherapy-Induced Leukemic-Regenerating Cells Reveals a Transient Vulnerability of Human AML Recurrence
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Despite successful remission induction, recurrence of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains a clinical obstacle thought to be caused by the retention of dormant leukemic stem cells (LSCs). Using chemotherapy-treated AML xenografts and patient samples, we have modeled patient remission and relapse kinetics to reveal that LSCs are effectively depleted via cell-cycle recruitment, leaving the origins of relapse unclear. Post-chemotherapy, in vivo characterization at the onset of disease relapse revealed a unique molecular state of leukemic-regenerating cells (LRCs) responsible for disease re-growth. LRCs are transient, can only be detected in vivo, and are molecularly distinct from therapy-naive LSCs. We demonstrate that LRC features can be used as markers of relapse and are therapeutically targetable to prevent disease recurrence.