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Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2002;8(11):597-600.

Telomere shortening in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: a potential mechanism for late graft failure?

Author information

1
Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington 98109-1024, USA.

Abstract

Telomeres serve to maintain the structural integrity of chromosomes, yet each somatic cell division is associated with a decrease in telomere length. The cumulative decrease in telomere length can impose an upper limit for the number of cell divisions that can occur before a cell senesces. When studied in vitro with fibroblasts, this limit is referred to as the Hayflick limit and usually occurs after 40 to 80 cell doublings. In theory, a similar replicative potential in a hematopoietic stem cell could support hematopoiesis in a person for more than 100 years. However, stem cells differentiate, and the telomere length differs among chromosomes within a single cell, among cell types, and among age-matched individuals. This variation in telomere length raises the possibility that long-term hematopoiesis by transplanted stem cells could, depending on the telomere length of the engrafted stem cell and the proliferative demand to which it is subjected, reach a Hayflick limit during the life span of the patient. Although significant shortening of telomeres is reported to occur within the first year posttransplantation, as yet no evidence has indicated that this shortening is associated with marrow function. In this review, we summarize reports on telomere shortening in stem cell transplantation recipients and report 2 cases in which graft failure is associated with significant telomere shortening.

PMID:
12463478
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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