Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) effectively treat graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) while not interfering with bone marrow transplant?s efficacy in treating leukemia.

Jeffery J. Auletta, MD, Kenneth Cooke, MD, and colleagues at the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, Cleveland, OH and the National Center for Regenerative Medicine, Cleveland, OH, presented this significant finding that as part of a poster presentation at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology titled ?Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells Attenuate Graft-Versus-Host Disease and Maintain Graft-Versus-Leukemia in Murine Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplantation.?

Mesenchymal stem cells are non-hematopoietic, or not blood-forming, adult stem cells found in the bone marrow and were discovered at UH Seidman Cancer Center and Case Western Reserve University.

They maintain hematopoietic, blood-forming, stem cell development and also differentiate into fat cells, bone cells and cartilage cells. MSCs have been shown to suppress immune responses ex vivo — outside the body in cell culture conditions.

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Due to these properties, MSCs have been used to treat Graft-Versus-Host Disease in bone marrow transplant (BMT) patients. However, how Mesenchymal stem cells immunomodulation works in vivo (inside the body) has not been well studied, and, in fact, could potentially promote leukemia/lymphoma recurrence in transplant patients. That is, the benefit of BMT is that the donor graft kills residual leukemia in the transplant recipient (host), a process called graft-versus-leukemia (GvL).

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?We used a pre-clinical mouse model of BMT to study how human MSCs mediate in vivo immune effects,? says Dr. Auletta. ?Our results show for the first time using an animal model that human MSCs simultaneously attenuate GvHD, but spare GvL activity.?

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 702. Experimental Transplantation – Immune Function, GVHD and Graft-versus-Tumor Effects: Posters I
Abstract: 1907 Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells Attenuate Graft-Versus-Host Disease and Maintain Graft-Versus-Leukemia in Murine Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplantation
When: Saturday, December 10, 2011, 5:30 PM-7:30 PM
Where: Hall GH (San Diego Convention Center).

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