Background: Connexins (Cxs) are gap junction proteins involved in the communication between acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and stromal cells. They consist of intercellular channels termed “connexions”, which can cause uncontrolled cell proliferation if dysregulated. This study aimed to evaluate the expression levels of the Cx32 and Cx43 genes and their correlations with other prognostic markers in patients with AML.
Methods: This cross sectional study was performed on peripheral blood samples from 60 newly diagnosed patients with AML and 40 healthy control subjects at Kasr Alainy School of Medicine, Cairo University, from June 2016 to December 2017. The quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) test was used to examine the relative gene expression levels of Cx43 and Cx32 in the patients and the control subjects. The Chi square test or the Fisher exact test was employed to examine the relationship between qualitative variables, while the independent t test or the Mann–Whitney test was employed for quantitative data. All the tests were two-tailed, and a P value of less than 0.05 was considered significant.
Results: Among the patients with AML, 65% had a high Cx32 expression level, whereas 63.3% had a low Cx43 expression level. There was a statistically significant difference in the fold change values of Cx32 and Cx43 expression between the patient group and the control group (P=0.009 vs P=0.013, respectively). There was a remarkable association between both Cxs and CD34 and HLA-DR cells.
Conclusion: Cx expression in samples may add to the diagnostic workup of AML. Although we found a negative correlation between Cx43 expression and the peripheral blood blast percentage, the response after the first induction of chemotherapy showed no significant relationship with Cx43 and Cx32.