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Blood. 2003 Jan 1;101(1):358-62. Epub 2002 Aug 22.

Homeostasis of telomere length rather than telomere shortening after allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation.

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  • 1Department of Hematology, Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands.


Hematopoietic reconstitution after stem cell transplantation requires excessive replicative activity because of the limited number of stem cells that are used for transplantation. Telomere shortening has been detected in hematopoietic cells after bone marrow transplantation. This has been thought to result from excessive replication of the stem cells, with putative concomitant reduction of their replicative potential. Hematopoietic stem cells from cytokine-mobilized peripheral blood are increasingly used for stem cell transplantation. These grafts contain higher numbers of hematopoietic stem cells, resulting in a faster hematopoietic reconstitution. We have performed a combined prospective and cross-sectional study of hematologic recovery and telomere length dynamics in the immediate reconstitution period after allogeneic T-cell-depleted blood stem cell transplantation. We analyzed hematologic recovery and telomere length of granulocytes, monocytes, B cells, and T-cell subsets in 30 donor/recipient combinations. We found fast recovery in combination with transient telomere shortening in the myeloid lineages. This initial reduction of telomere length was followed by an increase in telomere length to such an extent that 1 year after transplantation the telomere length in recipient cells was similar to the telomere length in donor-derived cells. Therefore, our data indicate telomere length homeostasis after peripheral blood stem cell transplantation, implying no loss of replicative capacity of the stem cells. Our data indicate that fast expansion is accompanied by a reduction of telomere length and that telomere length homeostasis is achieved by de novo generation of hematopoietic cells from stem cells without transplantation-related telomere loss.

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