The importance of angiogenesis for the progressive growth and viability of solid tumors is well established. In contrast, only few data are available for hematologic neoplasms. To investigate the role of angiogenesis in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), bone marrow biopsies from 62 adults with newly diagnosed, untreated AML (day 0) were evaluated. Further studies were done after the completion of remission induction chemotherapy (day 16 of induction chemotherapy, n = 21; complete remission, n = 20). Microvessels were scored in at least 3 areas (×500 field, 0.126 mm2) of the highest microvessel density in representative sections of each bone marrow specimen using immunohistochemistry for von Willebrand factor and thrombomodulin. Microvessel counts were significantly higher in patients with AML (n = 62) compared with control patients (n = 22): median (interquartile range) 24.0 (21.0-27.8)/×500 field vs 11.2 (10.0-12.0)/×500 field, respectively (P < .001). On day 16 of induction chemotherapy, microvessel density was reduced by 60% (44-66) (P < .001) in hypoplastic marrows without residual blasts, in contrast to only 17% (0-37) reduction in hypoplastic marrows with ≥ 5% residual blasts (P < .001 for the difference between both groups). Bone marrow biopsies taken at the time of complete remission displayed a microvessel density in the same range as the controls. In conclusion, there is evidence of increased microvessel density in the bone marrow of patients with AML, which supports the hypothesis of an important role of angiogenesis in AML. Furthermore, these findings suggest that antiangiogenic therapy might constitute a novel strategy for the treatment of AML.

  • Submitted July 26, 1999.
  • Accepted December 20, 1999.
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