Bone marrow-derived myeloid progenitors as driver mutation carriers in high- and low-risk Langerhans cell histiocytosis
Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) is a myeloid neoplasia, driven by sporadic activating mutations in the MAPK pathway. The “misguided myeloid dendritic cell (DC)” model proposes that high-risk, multisystem, risk-organ positive (MS-RO+) LCH results from driver mutation in a bone marrow (BM)-resident multipotent hematopoietic progenitor, while low-risk, MS-RO- and single system (SS) LCH would result from driver mutation in a circulating or tissue-resident, dendritic cell (DC)-committed precursor.
The CD34+c-Kit+Flt3+ population contains oligopotent progenitors of monocytes (Mo)/macrophages (MF), osteoclasts (OC) and DCs. We have examined this population as potential mutation carrier by droplet digital PCR in all LCH disease manifestations.
CD34+c-Kit+Flt3+ cells from BM of MS-RO+ LCH patients produced Langerhans cell (LC)-like cells in vitro. Both LC-like and DC offspring from this progenitor carried the BRAF mutation, confirming their common origin. In both high- and low-risk LCH patients, CD34+c-Kit+Flt3+ progenitor frequency in blood was higher than in healthy donors. In one MS-RO+ LCH patient, CD34+c-Kit+Flt3+ cell frequency in blood and its BRAF-mutated offspring reported response to chemotherapy. CD34+c-Kit+Flt3+ progenitors from blood of both high- and low-risk LCH patients gave rise to DC and LC-like cells in vitro, but the driver mutation was not easily detectable, likely due to low frequency of mutated progenitors. Mutant BRAF alleles were found in Mo/MF, DC, LC-like and/or OC-like cells in lesions and/or Mo and DC in blood of multiple low-risk patients.
Our results therefore suggest that both in high- and low-risk LCH, the driver mutation is present in a BM-resident myeloid progenitor that can be mobilized to the blood.