High Metabolic Dependence on Oxidative Phosphorylation Drives Sensitivity to Metformin Treatment in MLL/AF9 Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Longlong Liu, Pradeep Kumar Patnana, Xiaoqing Xie, Daria Frank, Subbaiah Chary Nimmagadda, Annegret Rosemann, Marie Liebmann, Luisa Klotz, Bertram Opalka, Cyrus Khandanpour*

*Corresponding author for this work
11 Citations (Scopus)


Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a group of hematological cancers with metabolic heterogeneity. Oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) has been reported to play an important role in the function of leukemic stem cells and chemotherapy-resistant cells and are associated with inferior prognosis in AML patients. However, the relationship between metabolic phenotype and genetic mutations are yet to be explored. In the present study, we demonstrate that AML cell lines have high metabolic heterogeneity, and AML cells with MLL/AF9 have upregulated mitochondrial activity and mainly depend on OXPHOS for energy production. Furthermore, we show that metformin repressed the proliferation of MLL/AF9 AML cells by inhibiting mitochondrial respiration. Together, this study demonstrates that AML cells with an MLL/AF9 genotype have a high dependency on OXPHOS and could be therapeutically targeted by metformin.

Original languageEnglish
Article number486
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01.02.2022

Research Areas and Centers

  • Research Area: Luebeck Integrated Oncology Network (LION)
  • Centers: University Cancer Center Schleswig-Holstein (UCCSH)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 205-14 Haematology, Oncology

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