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Leuk Res. 1996 Nov-Dec;20(11-12):891-900.

Measurement of apoptosis, proliferation and three cytokines in 46 patients with myelodysplastic syndromes.

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Rush Cancer Institute and the Department of Pathology, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.


Extensive apoptosis or programmed cell death (PCD) of both hematopoietic (erythroid, myeloid, megakaryocytic) and stromal cells in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) cancels the high birth-rate resulting in ineffective hematopoiesis and has been demonstrated as the probable basis for peripheral cytopenias in MDS by our group. It is proposed that factors present in the microenvironment are inducing apoptosis in all the cells whether stromal or parenchymal. To investigate this hypothesis further, bone marrow biopsies from 46 MDS patients and eight normal individuals were examined for the presence of three cytokines, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) and granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and one cellular component, macrophages, by the use of monoclonal antibodies immunohistochemically. Results showed the presence of TNF-alpha and TGF-beta in 41/46 and 40/46 cases of MDS respectively, while only 15 cases showed the presence of GM-CSF. Further a significant direct relationship was found between the degree of TNF-alpha and the incidence of PCD (p= 0.0015). Patients who showed high PCD also had an elevated TNF-alpha level. Thus, the expression of high amounts of TNF-alpha and TGF-beta and low amounts of the viability factor GM-CSF may be responsible for the high incidence of PCD leading to ineffective hematopoiesis in MDS. Future studies will be directed at attempting to reverse the lesion in MDS by using anti-TNF-alpha drugs such as pentoxifylline.

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