The molecular events responsible for decitabine responses in myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia patients are poorly understood. Decitabine has a short serum half-life and limited stability in tissue culture. Therefore, theoretical pharmacologic differences may exist between patient molecular changes in vitro and the consequences of in vivo treatment. To systematically identify the global genomic and transcriptomic alterations induced by decitabine in vivo, we evaluated primary bone marrow samples that were collected during patient treatment and applied whole-genome bisulfite sequencing, RNA-sequencing, and single-cell RNA sequencing. Decitabine induced global, reversible hypomethylation after 10 days of therapy in all patients, which was associated with induction of interferon-induced pathways, the expression of endogenous retroviral elements, and inhibition of erythroid-related transcripts, recapitulating many effects seen previously in in vitro studies. However, at relapse after decitabine treatment, interferon-induced transcripts remained elevated relative to day 0, but erythroid-related transcripts now were more highly expressed than at day 0. Clinical responses were not correlated with epigenetic or transcriptional signatures, although sample size and interpatient variance restricted the statistical power required for capturing smaller effects. Collectively, these data define global hypomethylation by decitabine and find that erythroid-related pathways may be relevant because they are inhibited by therapy and reverse at relapse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-65
Number of pages16
JournalExperimental Hematology
StatePublished - Jul 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Recurrent transcriptional responses in AML and MDS patients treated with decitabine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this