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Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2009 Sep;53(3):411-6. doi: 10.1002/pbc.22107.

Analysis of telomeres in peripheral blood cells from patients with bone marrow failure.

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Department of Medical Sciences, University of Eastern Piedmont, Novara, Italy.



The determination of telomere length is useful for the characterization of dyskeratosis congenita (DC) and of aplastic anemias (AA) as well as hematological malignancies. Short telomeres result from a specific defect of telomere maintenance in DC and likely from higher cellular turnover in AA and hematological malignancies. Data are not conclusive for Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA), a pure erythroid aplasia due to defects of ribosomal proteins. Our aim was to evaluate the utility of a qPCR method for telomere length assessment to evaluate the diagnostic contribution of telomere measurement in bone marrow failure syndromes (BMFS).


Telomere length was evaluated by qPCR in peripheral blood cells from 95 normal individuals and 62 patients with BMFS, including 45 patients with DBA.


Results obtained with qPCR are comparable with other quantitative methods, such as flow-FISH and Southern blotting. Our data show that only one DBA patient and a minority of other BMFS patients have very short telomeres, defined as less than the 1st percentile of controls.


The qPCR method for telomere length evaluation is an easy alternative to other methods and may thus be valuable in a clinical hematological laboratory setting. Telomere maintenance does not seem to be involved in the pathogenesis of DBA unlike in other BMFSs.

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