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1.  AF4 and AF4N protein complexes: recruitment of P-TEFb kinase, their interactome and potential functions 
AF4/AFF1 and AF5/AFF4 are the molecular backbone to assemble “super-elongation complexes” (SECs) that have two main functions: (1) control of transcriptional elongation by recruiting the positive transcription elongation factor b (P-TEFb = CyclinT1/CDK9) that is usually stored in inhibitory 7SK RNPs; (2) binding of different histone methyltransferases, like DOT1L, NSD1 and CARM1. This way, transcribed genes obtain specific histone signatures (e.g. H3K79me2/3, H3K36me2) to generate a transcriptional memory system. Here we addressed several questions: how is P-TEFb recruited into SEC, how is the AF4 interactome composed, and what is the function of the naturally occuring AF4N protein variant which exhibits only the first 360 amino acids of the AF4 full-length protein. Noteworthy, shorter protein variants are a specific feature of all AFF protein family members. Here, we demonstrate that full-length AF4 and AF4N are both catalyzing the transition of P-TEFb from 7SK RNP to their N-terminal domain. We have also mapped the protein-protein interaction network within both complexes. In addition, we have first evidence that the AF4N protein also recruits TFIIH and the tumor suppressor MEN1. This indicate that AF4N may have additional functions in transcriptional initiation and in MEN1-dependend transcriptional processes.
PMCID: PMC4497493  PMID: 26171280
AF4/AF4N; P-TEFb; elongation control; RNA polymerase II; 7SK RNP
2.  The role of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) polymorphisms in human erythropoiesis 
Glucocorticoids are endogenous steroid hormones that regulate several biological functions including proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis in numerous cell types in response to stress. Synthetic glucocorticoids, such as dexamethasone (Dex) are used to treat a variety of diseases ranging from allergy to depression. Glucocorticoids exert their effects by passively entering into cells and binding to a specific Glucocorticoid Receptor (GR) present in the cytoplasm. Once activated by its ligand, GR may elicit cytoplasmic (mainly suppression of p53), and nuclear (regulation of transcription of GR responsive genes), responses. Human GR is highly polymorphic and may encode > 260 different isoforms. This polymorphism is emerging as the leading cause for the variability of phenotype and response to glucocorticoid therapy observed in human populations. Studies in mice and clinical observations indicate that GR controls also the response to erythroid stress. This knowledge has been exploited in-vivo by using synthetic GR agonists for treatment of the erythropoietin-refractory congenic Diamond Blackfan Anemia and in-vitro to develop culture conditions that may theoretically generate red cells in numbers sufficient for transfusion. However, the effect exerted by GR polymorphism on the variability of the phenotype of genetic and acquired erythroid disorders observed in the human population is still poorly appreciated. This review will summarize current knowledge on the biological activity of GR and of its polymorphism in non-hematopoietic diseases and discuss the implications of these observations for erythropoiesis.
PMCID: PMC4348794  PMID: 25755906
Dexamethasone (Dex); glucocorticoid receptor (GR); single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP); erythropoietin-resistant anemia; erythrocytosis
3.  Dkk-1 and IL-7 in plasma of patients with multiple myeloma prevent differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells into osteoblasts 
Bone disease is the leading cause of morbidity associated with multiple myeloma (MM). Lytic bone lesions have been detected in 90% of patients diagnosed with MM and present a great therapeutic challenge. After the removal of the tumor burden, the bone lesions persist and the bone remodeling homeostasis is not restored even in patients in clinical remission. To determine whether systemic factors generated by malignant MM cells can skew the osteoblast (OB) differentiation program of normal mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), we generated an immortalized bone marrow MSC line (hTERT-MSC). The hTERT-MSCs were exposed to plasma from healthy donors and patients with MM. Cells grown in media supplemented with plasma from MM patients failed to differentiate into OBs, while the hTERT-MSCs grown in the presence of normal human plasma generated OB clusters that mineralized calcium, expressed Runx2, and were positive for alkaline phosphatase, fibronectin, collagen I, osteocalcin, and osteopontin. Blocking Dickkopf-1 (Dkk-1) and interleukin-7 (IL-7) in MM plasma restored proper OB differentiation of hTERT-MSCs. Finally, we show that hTERT-MSCs cultured in the presence of MM plasma adopt a cancer-associated stroma phenotype. Thus, we show, that systemic factors present in the plasma of patients with MM affect the behavior of non-malignant MSCs and contribute to the sustained bone disease reported in MM.
PMCID: PMC4348795  PMID: 25755907
Multiple myeloma; lytic bone lesions; osteoblast differentiation; Dkk-1; IL-7
4.  Comparative of three methods (ELIZA, MAIPA and flow cytometry) to determine anti-platelet antibody in children with ITP 
Immune (idiopathic) thrombocytopenic purpurea (ITP) is an autoimmune disease characterized by the increased anti-platelet antibodies in the patient’s sera and decreased platelets in the blood circulation. This study has determined and characterized the antiplatelet glycoproteins in children with ITP. Thirty eight children, who were hospitalized with clinical signs of ITP in Mofid Children Hospital (Tehran, Iran) during 18 months, went under our clinical studies in a research project. ELISA, Flow cytometry and MAIPA (Monoclonal Antibody Immobilization of Platelet Antigens) methods were employed to determine serum anti-platelet antibodies level. The anti-platelet antibodies level above mean + 3SD of control group was assumed as positive. The platelet counts ranged between 2 × 109/L and 100 × 109/L. Among the patients 63.5% of them were anti-platelet antibodies positive with ELISA method. Results of platelet lysate method showed that 51.7% of patients had antibodies against platelet antigens. Antibody against platelet GPIIb/IIIa, GPIb/IX and GPIa/IIa using MAIPA method were 48%, 54% and 25% respectively. In flow cytometry 62% of patients showed anti-platelet antibodies. The comparison of three methods shows that since MAIPA is the specific method for the detection of very small amount of antibody against glycoprotein antigens, it has the advantage of differentiating between immune and non-immune thrombocytopenia.
PMCID: PMC4348796  PMID: 25755908
Anti-platelet antibody; ELIZA; MAIPA; flow cytometry
5.  Long-lasting complete response to imatinib in a patient with systemic mastocytosis exhibiting wild type KIT  
Systemic mastocytosis (SM) is a hematopoietic disorder characterized by abnormal expansion of mast cells (MCs) in visceral organs. The skin is involved in most cases. In adult patients the transforming KIT mutation D816V is usually present and confers resistance against imatinib. Therefore, imatinib is not recommended for patients with KIT D816V+ SM. Nonetheless, imatinib may work in patients with SM lacking KIT D816V. However, little is known about long-term efficacy and safety of this drug in SM. We report on a 62-year-old female patient with indolent SM (ISM) who suffered from severe debilitating skin involvement despite therapy with anti-mediator-type drugs, psoralen and ultraviolet-A-radiation. Although multifocal MC infiltrates were detected in the bone marrow by immunohistochemistry, no KIT mutation was found by sequencing analysis. In 2003, treatment with imatinib (induction, 400 mg/day; maintenance, 200 mg/day) was initiated. During therapy, skin lesions and tryptase levels decreased. Treatment was well tolerated without any side effects. After 10 years, skin lesions have disappeared and the tryptase level is within normal range. This case-study confirms the long-term efficacy and safety of imatinib in patients with SM lacking activating KIT mutations. Imatinib should be considered in select cases of SM in whom MCs exhibit wild-type KIT.
PMCID: PMC4351647  PMID: 25755909
Mastocytosis; tryptase; KIT D816V; imatinib; long-term efficacy; drug safety
6.  STAT5 N-domain deleted isoforms are naturally occurring hypomorphs partially rescued in hematopoiesis by transgenic Bcl-2 expression 
Signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) is a critical regulator of normal and leukemic lympho-myeloid development through activation downstream of early-acting cytokines, their receptors, and JAKs. Truncation of STAT5 can be mediated through alternative translation initiation from an internal start codon giving rise to N-terminally deleted isoforms. To determine whether these isoforms could be detected naturally in normal murine tissues, Western blot analyses were performed on heart, lung, brain, spleen, liver, and kidney. Relative expression of full-length to truncated STAT5 was variable among tissues. Since we have previously demonstrated that STAT5abΔN lacks the ability to effectively upregulate pro-survival signals and bcl-2 expression, we used a transgenic mouse approach to next determine whether constitutive expression of human Bcl-2 in STAT5abΔN/ΔN mouse hematopoietic cells could restore normal hematopoiesis. Transgenic H2K-Bcl-2 expression in hypomorphic STAT5abΔN/ΔN mice largely rescued peripheral B and T lymphocyte numbers whereas multilineage donor contribution was only rescued to levels about 10% of normal. At the hematopoietic stem cell level, direct competitive repopulation with H2K-Bcl-2/STAT5abΔN/ΔN against STAT5abΔN/ΔN competitor showed a corrective effect of Bcl-2 expression whether the STAT5abΔN/ΔN genotype was competed as the donor or as the host versus H2K-Bcl-2/STAT5abΔN/ΔN genotype bone marrow cells. Therefore, STAT5abΔN isoforms are heterogeneously expressed and lack key functional activities that can be partially rescued by adding back Bcl-2.
PMCID: PMC4165113  PMID: 25232501
Cytokine signaling; JAK/STAT; hematopoiesis; apoptosis; Bcl-2
7.  The transcription factor Miz-1 is required for embryonic and stress-induced erythropoiesis but dispensable for adult erythropoiesis 
Myc-interacting zinc finger protein 1 (Miz-1) is a BTB/POZ domain transcription factor that regulates complex processes such as proliferation and apoptosis. Constitutively Miz-1-deficient animals arrest embryonic development at E14.5 due to severe anemia and fetal liver cells lacking Miz-1 show a high cell death rate and a significant reduction of mature Ter119+ckit- or Ter119+CD71-/low cells. Consistently, the numbers of BFU-Es and CFU-Es were severely reduced in colony forming assays. Mice with conditional Miz-1 alleles deleted around E14.5 were born at expected ratios, but had reduced numbers of erythrocytes, and showed an increase in reticulocytes and Macro-RBCs in the peripheral blood. When challenged with the hemolytic agent phenylhydrazine (PHZ), Miz-1 deficient mice responded with a severe anemia after 4 days of treatment, but showed a delay in the recovery from this anemia with regard to RBC counts, hematocrit and hemoglobin levels compared to controls. In addition, an accumulation of immature CD71+Ter119+ cells occurred in the bone marrow and spleen of mice lacking a functional Miz-1. We conclude from our studies that Miz-1 is important for erythroid differentiation and development. Moreover, Miz-1 is necessary to maintain a peripheral red blood cell homeostasis in particular in response to hemolysis after oxidative stress.
PMCID: PMC4165114  PMID: 25232500
BTB/POZ domain; transcription factor; Miz-1; erythropoiesis; Epo; STAT5
8.  Multiplex amplification refractory mutation system (MARMS) for the detection of β-globin gene mutations among the transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia Malay patients in Kelantan, Northeast of Peninsular Malaysia 
The aim of this study was to adapt MARMS with some modifications to detect beta mutation in our cohort of thalassemia patients. We focused only on transfusion-dependent thalassemia Malay patients, the predominant ethnic group (95%) in the Kelantanese population. Eight mutations were identified in 46 out of 48 (95.83%) beta thalassemia alleles. Most of the patients (54.2%) were compound heterozygous with co-inheritance Cd 26 (G>A). The frequencies of spectrum beta chain mutation among these patients are presented in Table 2. Among the transfusion dependent beta thalassemia Malay patients studied, 26 patients were found to be compound heterozygous and the main alleles were Cd 26 (G>A). Compound heterozygous mutation of Cd 26 (G>A) and IVS 1-5 (G>C) were 12 (46.2%), Cd 26 (G>A) and Cd 41/42 (TTCT) were 9 (34.6%), Cd 26 (G>A) and IVS 1-1 (G>C) were 2 (7.7%) respectively. Meanwhile the minority were made of a single compound heterozygous of Cd 26 (G>A) and Cd 71/72, Cd 26 (>A) and Cd 17 (A>T), Cd 26 (G>A) and -28 (G>A) respectively. Twenty out of forty six patients were shown to have homozygous of IVS 1-5 (G>C) were 2 (10.0%), Cd 26 (G>A) were 15 (75.0%), Cd 19 (A>G) were 1 (5.0%), and IVS 1-1 (G>T) were 2 (10.0%). The beta chain mutations among the Kelantanese Malays followed closely the distribution of beta chain mutations among the Thais and the Malays of the Southern Thailand. The G-C transition at position 5 of the IVS 1-5 mutation was predominant among the Malay patients. In conclusion, this method has successfully identified the mutation spectrum in our cohort of transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia patients, and this method is equally effective in screening for mutation among thalassemia patients.
PMCID: PMC4165115  PMID: 25232503
MARMS-PCR; β-globin gene; thalassemia; Malay; mutation
9.  Transfusion-independent β0-thalassemia after bone marrow transplantation failure: proposed involvement of high parental HbF and an epigenetic mechanism 
Currently, bone marrow transplantation is the only curative treatment for β-thalassemia and sickle cell disease. In rare cases, sustained and full fetal hemoglobin production was observed in patients after failure of bone marrow transplantation. This rendered the patients transfusion-free, despite genetic disease and transplant rejection. The mechanisms underlying this phenomenon remain unexplored. We have studied a trio (father-mother-child) in which the affected child became transfusion-independent after rejection of an allogeneic bone marrow graft. Remarkably, we found that his non-thalassemic mother also expressed unusually high levels of γ-globin. High HbF in one of the parents may therefore be of prognostic value in these rare cases. Genotyping of the HBB locus and the HbF quantitative trait loci HBS1L-MYB, KLF1 and BCL11A, and protein expression analysis of KLF1 and BCL11A, failed to explain the increased HbF levels, indicating that an as yet unidentified HbF modifier locus may be involved. We hypothesize that epigenetic events brought about by the transplantation procedure allow therapeutic levels of HbF expression in the child. Potential implications of our observations for reactivation of γ-globin expression and interpretation of the French globin gene therapy case are discussed.
PMCID: PMC4165118  PMID: 25232502
β-thalassemia; bone marrow transplantation; HbF; transfusion-independence; epigenetics; MYB; KLF1; BCL11A; HBB
10.  N-cadherin impedes proliferation of the multiple myeloma cancer stem cells 
Multiple myeloma (MM) is an incurable malignancy of the plasma cells localized to the bone marrow. A rare population of MM cancer stem cells (MM-CSCs) has been shown to be responsible for maintaining the pull of residual disease and to contribute to myeloma relapse. The stem cells are found in a bone marrow niche in contact with the stromal cells that are responsible for maintaining the proliferative quiescence of the MM-CSC and regulate its self-renewal and differentiation decisions. Here we show that both MM and bone marrow stromal cells express N-cadherin, a cell-cell adhesion molecule shown to maintain a pool of leukemic stem cells. Inhibition of N-cadherin using a neutralizing antibody led to an increase in the MM cell proliferation. A decrease in MM cell adhesion to the bone marrow stroma was observed in the first 24 hours of co-culture followed by a 2.3-30-fold expansion of the adherent cells. Moreover, inhibition of N-cadherin led to a 4.8-9.6-fold expansion of the MM-CSC population. Surprisingly, addition of the N-cadherin antagonist peptide resulted in massive death of the non-adherent MM cells, while the viability of the adherent cells and MM-CSCs remained unaffected. Interestingly, the proliferative effects of N-cadherin inhibition were not mediated by the nuclear translocation of β-catenin. Taken together, our findings demonstrate the crucial role of N-cadherin in regulating MM cell proliferation and viability and open an interesting avenue of investigation to understand how structural modifications of N-cadherin can affect MM cell behavior. Our findings suggest that targeting N-cadherin may be a useful therapeutic strategy to treat MM in conjunction with an agent that has anti-MM-CSC activity.
PMCID: PMC3875273  PMID: 24396705
Multiple myeloma; cancer stem cells; N-cadherin
11.  The Epstein-Barr virus microRNA BART11-5p targets the early B-cell transcription factor EBF1 
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a ubiquitous B-cell trophic herpesvirus associated with a variety of histologically diverse B-cell lymphomas, each associated with specific viral-latency gene expression programs. Initial infection drives resting B-cells to differentiate via an atypical germinal centre reaction into memory B-cells, where the virus resides in a latent state. The mechanisms that underpin this process have yet to be fully elucidated. EBV expresses more than 40 microRNAs (miRNAs). The alternatively spliced BamHI A rightward transcripts (BARTs) are the template for two large miRNA clusters (BARTs A and B), that comprise the majority of all known EBV-miRNAs. Although BART-miRNAs are abundantly expressed in all latency programs, few BART-miRNA targets have been identified and their function is poorly understood. The early B-cell factor 1 (EBF1) was identified using bioinformaticss analysis as a novel target of EBV-miRNA BART11-5p, encoded by BART cluster B. EBF1 is an important B-cell transcription factor that regulates many B-cell specific genes including Pax5, BCR and CD40 and is critical for germinal centre formation. Using luciferase reporter assays and a series of BART-constructs, we confirmed silencing via the EBF1 3’ untranslated region (UTR) and identified the target site as 2137-2159 bp after the stop codon. Results were confirmed following transfection of a BART11-5p mimic, which was able to silence via the predicted target site. Our findings highlight a potential role of BART-miRNAs in the regulation of B-cell differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3755520  PMID: 23997984
EBV; microRNA; BamHI A rightward transcripts; early B-cell transcription factor; B-cell
12.  Treatment of severe steroid resistant acute GVHD with mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) 
Background: Several studies revealed that MSC from human bone marrow can downregulate graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after allogeneic HSCT. Methods: Herein we present 50 patients with acute GVHD who got 74 (1-4) MSC infusions for 54 separate episodes of aGVHD. Results: aGVHD was defined as steroid resistant grade IV aGVHD in 42 cases. The major presentation was gastrointestinal GVHD; two (n=18) or more (n=21) systems were involved in the majority of cases. The 1st infusion with MSC was given on day +27 (range, 1 to 136); d+45 (range, +11 to +150) post diagnosis of aGVHD and HSCT, respectively. In 2/3 of the cases treatment was performed with frozen stocked MSCs; in 62 cases early passages (1-3) were used. The median number of infused cells was 1.14±0.47 million per kg in the first injection and up to 4.27 (1.70±1.10) millions in total. The two patients with aggressive liver GVHD received MSCs injections intra hepatic arteries without changes of blood flow or evidence cytolysis, but also without a visible effect. Disease free survival at 3.6 years was 56%. We observed better overall survival in patients with GVHD grade < 4, in responders to the 1st treatment with MSC, and in pediatric group. The multivariate analysis demonstrated independent influence on survival of initial response and younger age. There were no immediate or late toxicity or side effects. Conclusion: Injection of MSCs seems to be a promising and safe treatment of GVHD. The encouraging results obviously should be confirmed in a randomized prospective study.
PMCID: PMC3755522  PMID: 23997985
Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC); mesenchymal stem cells; hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; graft versus host disease; steroid resistance
13.  Costs and quality of life in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes 
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) encompass a range of myeloid neoplasms characterised by a defect in haematopoietic stem cell maturation, resulting in peripheral cytopenias. As a major consequence, most MDS patients become anaemic, so as to require red blood cell transfusions. To investigate the costs and the impact on quality of life (QOL) of MDS-separately in transfusion-independent (TI) and -dependent (TD) patients-a literature search was conducted. From Medline and Embase, 742 studies were identified, of which 17 were considered eligible. Total medical costs per patient/year range from $ 9,840 to $ 19,811 for the TI condition and from $ 29,608 to $ 51,066 in the TD condition, more than doubling when moving from the former condition to the latter. With regard to QOL, in the transition from TI to TD, QOL could be reduced by half depending on the studies. The TD condition negatively impacts on costs and the QOL of patients with MDS. Therapeutic strategies that reduce transfusion dependence may lead to broad benefits for patients and the community.
PMCID: PMC3755523  PMID: 23997987
Myelodysplastic syndromes; anemia; transfusion dependence; quality of life; medical costs
14.  Detection of immune suppressive neutrophils in peripheral blood samples of cancer patients 
Neutrophils provide first-line defense against infections and are potent effectors in innate and adaptive immunity. Recently neutrophils have been shown to play important roles in multiple antitumor reactions. A subset of mature neutrophils in human systemic inflammation has been identified as a unique circulating population of myeloid cells, which is capable of inhibiting T cell responses. These neutrophils show unique immunophenotype (CD11c bright/CD62L dim/CD11b bright/CD16 bright). This study reports detection of mature neutrophils with similar immunophenotype in the peripheral blood samples of cancer patients using flow cytometry analysis. This population of neutrophils is not detected in peripheral blood samples of normal controls. Thus this finding suggests the involvement of mature neutrophils in antitumor immunity.
PMCID: PMC3755524  PMID: 23997986
Neutrophils; immunosuppressive; cancer; CD62L
15.  Romiplostim for delayed platelet recovery and secondary thrombocytopenia following allogeneic stem cell transplantation 
Delayed recovery of platelet count post allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) has been associated with worse transplant outcomes. Thrombopoietic agents have been successfully used in immune mediated thrombocytopenia or thrombocytopenia from bone marrow failure syndromes; however, the experience regarding their use after allo-HSCT is limited. Here we report on the safety and efficacy of romiplostim used in 3 consecutive patients with thrombocytopenia post allogeneic transplantation. Two patients had prolonged platelet recovery due to poor graft function while one had secondary failure of platelet recovery, likely immune mediated, post transplantation. Successful use of such agents post-transplant may improve platelet recovery, decrease rates of complications and potentially improve outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3755526  PMID: 23997988
Post-transplant thrombocytopenia; romiplostim; allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
16.  Aging- and activation-induced platelet microparticles suppress apoptosis in monocytic cells and differentially signal to proinflammatory mediator release 
Background: Platelet microparticles (PM) are the most abundant cell-derived microparticles in the blood, and accumulate in thrombo-inflammatory diseases. Platelets produce PM upon aging via an apoptosis-like process and by activation with strong agonists. We previously showed that long-term treatment of monocytic cells with apoptosis-induced PM (PMap) promotes their differentiation into resident macrophages. Here we investigated shorter term effects of various types of PM on monocyte signalling and function. Methods and results: Flow cytometry and scanning electron microscopy revealed that PM formed upon platelet aging (PMap) or ultra-sonication (PMsonic) expressed activated αIIbβ3 integrins and tended to assemble into aggregates. In contrast, PM formed upon platelet activation with thrombin (PMthr) or Ca2+ ionophore (PMiono) had mostly non-activated αIIbβ3 and little aggregate formation, but had increased CD63 expression. PM from activated and sonicated platelets expressed phosphatidylserine at their surface, while only the latter were enriched in the receptors CD40L and CX3CR1. All PM types expressed P-selectin, interacted with monocytic cells via this receptor, and were internalised into these cells. The various PM types promoted actin cytoskeletal rearrangements and hydrogen peroxide production by monocytic cells. Markedly, both aging- and activation-induced PM types stimulated the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt pathway, suppressing apoptosis induced by several agonists, in a P-selectin-dependent manner. On the other hand, the PM types differentially influenced monocyte signalling in eliciting Ca2+ fluxes (particularly PMap) and in releasing secondary mediators (complement factor C5a with PMap, and pro-inflammatory tumour necrosis factor-α with PMthr). Conclusions: In spite of their common anti-apoptotic potential via Akt activation, aging- and activation-induced PM cause different Ca2+ signalling events and mediator release in monocytic cells. By implication, aging and activated platelets may modulate monocyte function in different way by the shedding of different PM types.
PMCID: PMC3649808  PMID: 23675563
Aging; apoptosis; microparticles; monocytes; platelet activation; tumour necrosis factor
17.  Guidelines and diagnostic algorithm for patients with suspected systemic mastocytosis: a proposal of the Austrian competence network (AUCNM) 
Systemic mastocytosis (SM) is a hematopoietic neoplasm characterized by pathologic expansion of tissue mast cells in one or more extracutaneous organs. In most children and most adult patients, skin involvement is found. Childhood patients frequently suffer from cutaneous mastocytosis without systemic involvement, whereas most adult patients are diagnosed as suffering from SM. In a smaller subset of patients, SM without skin lesions develops which is a diagnostic challenge. In the current article, a diagnostic algorithm for patients with suspected SM is proposed. In adult patients with skin lesions and histologically confirmed mastocytosis in the skin (MIS), a bone marrow biopsy is recommended regardless of the serum tryptase level. In adult patients without skin lesions who are suffering from typical mediator-related symptoms, the basal serum tryptase level is an important diagnostic parameter. In those with slightly elevated tryptase (15-30 ng/ml), additional non-invasive investigations, including a KIT mutation analysis of peripheral blood cells and sonographic analysis, is performed. In adult patients in whom i) KIT D816V is detected or/and ii) the basal serum tryptase level is clearly elevated (> 30 ng/ml) or/and iii) other clinical or laboratory features are suggesting the presence of occult mastocytosis, a bone marrow biopsy should be performed. In the absence of KIT D816V and other indications of mastocytosis, no bone marrow investigation is required, but the patient’s course and the serum tryptase levels are examined in the follow-up.
PMCID: PMC3649810  PMID: 23675567
Mastocytosis; tryptase; KIT D816V; diagnostic algorithm; staging
18.  MyD88 is involved in myeloid as well as lymphoid hematopoiesis independent of the presence of a pathogen 
MyD88 was originally described as a primary response gene up-regulated during myeloid differentiation after IL-6 induction. Later, MyD88 was shown to be a key molecule necessary for IL1, IL18 and Toll-like receptor signaling. Since these receptors recognize abundantly produced cytokines during infection or molecular patterns of pathogens, MyD88 itself was suggested to be an important regulator of the first line of defense against invading pathogens, including the differentiation and maturation of myeloid cells. Here we describe that MyD88 is important for early and late hematopoietic events that occur independently of antigen under steady-state conditions. In MyD88-deficient mice the earliest alteration in hematopoiesis was found at the level of long-term hematopoietic stem cells. Moreover, we found that MyD88 influences not only the development of the myeloid lineage but also the differentiation of B cells. The B cell defect observed in Btk-deficient mice is further enhanced when both molecules, Btk and MyD88, are not expressed. Therefore, MyD88 affects myeloid as well as lymphoid hematopoiesis. Since Btk and MyD88 deficiencies influence differentially myeloid and lymphoid development, both molecules seem to act in different signaling pathways important for appropriate developmental events during myelo- and lymphopoiesis.
PMCID: PMC3649812  PMID: 23675564
MyD88; Btk; hematopoiesis; myelopoiesis; lymphopoiesis
19.  Treatment of older patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML): a Canadian consensus 
Patients over age 60 comprise the majority of those diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), but treatment approaches in this population are variable, with many uncertainties and controversies. Our group conducted a literature review to summarize the latest information and to develop a consensus document with practical treatment recommendations. We addressed five key questions: selection criteria for patients to receive intensive induction chemotherapy; optimal induction and post-remission regimens; allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT); treatment of patients not suitable for induction chemotherapy; and treatment of patients with prior hematological disorders or therapy-related AML. Relevant literature was identified through a PubMed search of publications from 1991 to 2012. Key findings included the recognition that cytogenetics and molecular markers are major biologic determinants of treatment outcomes in the older population, both during induction therapy and following HSCT. Although disease-specific and patient-specific risk factors for poor outcomes are more common in the older population, age is not in itself sufficient grounds for withholding established treatments, including induction and consolidation chemotherapy. The role of HSCT and use of hypomethylating agents are discussed. Finally, suggested treatment algorithms are outlined, based on these recommendations.
PMCID: PMC3649813  PMID: 23675565
Acute myeloid leukemia; chemotherapy; cytogenetics; prognosis; hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; hypomethylating agent
20.  Absence of BRAF exon 15 mutations in multiple myeloma and Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia questions its validity as a therapeutic target in plasma cell neoplasias 
Purpose: Recent whole genome and/or exome sequencing in a cohort of 32 Multiple Myeloma (MΜ) patients reported the incidence of BRAF mutations at 4%, while in another exome sequencing study, BRAF mutations were reported in up to 13% of cases tested. We ran a confirmatory study by using High Resolution Melting Analysis (HRMA), which is a low-cost, straightforward and sensitive screening test for detection of BRAF exon 15 mutations in MM and Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia (WM) patients, in order to investigate their incidence in every day clinical practice. We considered this investigation to be of clinical relevance following the recent emergence of potent anti-BRAF compounds. Patients and Methods: We used genomic DNA isolated from 31 bone marrow aspirates obtained from 25 MM patients and 3 patients with WM (14 female; 14 male) who signed an informed consent. Patients’ median age was 69 years (range 43-86) and median follow-up time was 45 months. Myeloma subtypes were as follows: 7 IgGκ, 6 IgGλ, 7 IgAλ, 4 IgAλ and 1 non-secretory. The bone marrow plasma cells ranged from 12 to 100% (mean/median value 45%). By International Staging System (ISS) 9/25 patients were stage Ι, 6/25 stage ΙΙ, 7/25 stage ΙΙΙ, while in 3 cases staging information was missing. In 3 MM cases matched paired samples at diagnosis and at relapse were also available. DNA samples were screened using HRMA. HRMA results were confirmed by subsequent ds-bi-directional sequencing (Sanger method) for somatic mutations in exon 15 of BRAF. Results: At a limit of detection ≥2.5% mutant allelic content by HRMA, we did not detect any BRAF mutations in exon 15 in any of our 31 samples. Conclusions: By using HRMA we do not confirm previously reported results. Lack of detection of BRAF exon 15 mutations in our MM and WM series may be related to different sensitivity of the assays used and/or the relatively small sample size. In any case, we consider that existing data should be taken into account when considering the clinical development of BRAF inhibitors in plasma cell neoplasms.
PMCID: PMC3649814  PMID: 23675568
Multiple myeloma; BRAF; mutation; WaldenstrÖm’s macroglobulinemia; high resolution melting analysis
21.  Refinement of IKZF1 recombination hotspots in pediatric BCP-ALL patients 
Chromosomal translocations resulting in chimeric fusion genes are prototypic for pediatric leukemia patients. The most known fusions are ETV6-RUNX1 or BCR-ABL1 in B-cell progenitor (BCP)-ALL, and rearrangements of MLL in pediatric ALL and AML. Genome-wide sequencing projects have revealed additional, recurrent gene mutations in B cell malignancies. One of these mutations comprises the IKZF1 gene, encoding the IKAROS transcription factor which is one of the essential transcription factors driving lymphoid development. IKZF1 deletions were first identified by SNP arrays in ALL patients, and later identified with a high prevalence in BCR-ABL1+ patients. IKZF1 deletions turned out to be an independent prognostic marker associated with a poor outcome. Here, we characterized IKZF1 deletions in pediatric BCP-ALL patients by combining MLPA mapping experiments with long distance inverse PCR. The aim of our study was also to compare existing methods with our approach. Our attempt confirmed many of the existing data but revealed a more complex pattern of recombination sites, including a total of 4 recombination hotspots. This extended knowledge was translated into a novel, multiplex PCR assay that allows to perform IKZF1 deletion analyses by using a 2-tube PCR approach.
PMCID: PMC3649816  PMID: 23675566
Childhood leukemia; cancer genetics; gene deletion; IKAROS; IKZF1; leukemia markers
22.  Repeated treatment with high dose cyclophosphamide for severe autoimmune diseases 
High dose cyclophosphamide (HiCY) without stem cell rescue has been shown to induce remissions in patients with severe autoimmune disorders (SADS). However, up to 80% of these patients ultimately relapse. Here we review the outcomes of seven patients treated with two cycles and one patient treated with three cycles of HiCY. The diseases re-treated were scleroderma, multiple sclerosis, three patients with severe aplastic anemia (SAA), and three patients with myasthenia gravis (MG). All but two patients with SAA had received standard immunomodulatory therapy for their disease up front and had been refractory. All patients had complete hematologic recovery. Overall survival in this cohort was 100%. All patients relapsed after the initial cycle but event free survival thereafter was 93.3%. All are still in remission except two MG patients, one of whom relapsed after a severe GI infection requiring hospitalization, and the other relapsed 3 years after the second treatment and she did not respond to the third treatment. This shows that HiCY can be safely re-administered in patients with SAA and refractory SADS. The quality and duration of second remissions appears to be equal or superior to the first remission.
PMCID: PMC3555191  PMID: 23358715
Autoimmunity; cyclophosphamide; severe autoimmune diseases
23.  Suppression of STAT5A and STAT5B chronic myeloid leukemia cells via siRNA and antisense-oligonucleotide applications with the induction of apoptosis 
Signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT) proteins function in the JAK/STAT signaling pathway and are activated by phosphorylation. As a result of this signaling event, they affect many cellular processes including cell growth, proliferation, differentiation, and survival. Increases in the expressions of STAT5A and STAT5B play a remarkable role in the development of leukemia in which leukemic cells gain uncontrolled proliferation and angiogenesis ability. At the same time, these cells acquire ability to escape from apoptosis and host immune system. In this study, we aimed to suppress STAT-5A and -5B genes in K562 CML cells by siRNA transfection and antisense oligonucleotides (ODN) targeting and then to evaluate apoptosis rate. Finally, we compared the transfection efficiencies of these approaches. Quantitative RT-PCR and Western blot results indicated that STAT expressions were downregulated at both mRNA and protein levels following siRNA transfection. However, electroporation mediated ODN transfection could only provide limited suppression rates at mRNA and protein levels. Moreover, it was displayed that apoptosis were significantly induced in siRNA treated leukemic cells as compared to ODN treated cells. As a conclusion, siRNA applications were found to be more effective in terms of gene silencing when compared to ODN treatment based on the higher apoptosis and mRNA suppression rates. siRNA application could be a new and alternative curative method as a supporting therapy in CML patients.
PMCID: PMC3555192  PMID: 23358828
Chronic myeloid leukemia; K562; STAT5; siRNA knockdown; antisense oligonucleotides; apoptosis
24.  Bruton’s tyrosine kinase mediated signaling enhances leukemogenesis in a mouse model for chronic lymphocytic leukemia 
In chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) signals from the B cell receptor (BCR) play a major role in disease development and progression. In this light, new therapies that specifically target signaling molecules downstream of the BCR continue to be developed. While first studies on the selective small molecule inhibitor of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (Btk), Ibrutinib (PCI-32765), demonstrated that Btk inhibition sensitizes CLL cells to apoptosis and alters their migratory behavior, these studies however did not address whether Btk-mediated signaling is involved in the process of CLL leukemogenesis. To investigate the requirement of Btk signaling for CLL development, we modulated Btk expression in the IgH.ETμ CLL mouse model, which is based on sporadic expression of the simian oncovirus SV40 T-antigen in mature B cells. To this end, we crossed IgH.ETμ mice on a Btk-deficient background or introduced a human Btk transgene (CD19-hBtk). Here we show that Btk deficiency fully abrogates CLL formation in IgH.ETμ mice, and that leukemias formed in Btk haplo-insufficient mice selectively expressed the wild-type Btk allele on their active X chromosome. Conversely, Btk overexpression accelerated CLL onset, increased mortality, and was associated with selection of non-stereotypical BCRs into CLL clones. Taken together, these data show that Btk expression represents an absolute prerequisite for CLL development and that Btk mediated signaling enhances leukemogenesis in mice. We therefore conclude that in CLL Btk expression levels set the threshold for malignant transformation.
PMCID: PMC3555194  PMID: 23359016
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL); bruton’s tyrosine kinase (Btk); B cell receptor signaling
25.  Kinetics of iron removal by phlebotomy in patients with iron overload after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation 
Excess body iron could persist for years after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) with possible deleterious sequels. An iron depletive therapy with phlebotomy seems rational. Kinetics of iron removal by phlebotomy without erythropoietin support in non-thalassemic adult patients with iron overload after HCT and the impact of pre- and post-HCT hemochromatosis (HFE) genotype on iron mobilization were investigated. Patients and methods: Phlebotomy was initiated in 61 recipients of allografts due to hematologic malignancies (median age 48 years) after a median of 18 months. The prephlebotomy median serum ferritin (SF) was 1697ng/ml and the median number of blood transfusions 28 units. Alanine aminotransferase (ALT)/aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphates (AP), and bilirubin were elevated in 55.7%, 64% and 11.5% patients respectively. HFE-genotype was elucidated by polymerase chain reaction using hybridization probes and melting curve analysis. Results: Phlebotomy was well-tolerated irrespective of age or conditioning. A negative iron balance in 80% of patients (median SF 1086 ng/ml) and a rise in hemoglobin were observed (p<0.0001). Higher transfusional burden and SF were associated with a greater iron mobilization per session (p=0.02). In 58% of patients, a plateau after an initial steady decline in SF was followed by a second decline under further phlebotomy. The improvement in ALT (p=0.002), AST (p=0.03), AP (p=0.01), and bilirubin (p<0.0001) did not correlate with the decline in SF. Mutant HFE-gene variants were detected in 14/55 (25%) pre-HCT and 22/55 (40%) patients post-HCT. Overall, dissimilar pre- and posttransplantational HFE-genotypes were detected in 20/55 (40%) patients. Posttransplantational mutant HFE variants correlated with a slower decline in SF (p=0.007). Conclusions: Phlebotomy is a convenient therapy of iron overload in survivors of HCT. A negative iron balance and a rise in hemoglobin were observed in the majority of patients. Liver dysfunction improved irrespective of SF reduction suggesting a probable rapid decline of the deleterious labile plasma iron. In recipients of grafts with mutant HFE variants a “mixed chimerism” of HFE in body tissues might be created with a change in the set point for iron regulation. The transient plateau in SF after an initial decline might reflect iron mobilization from various tissues.
PMCID: PMC3512175  PMID: 23226624
Iron overload; ferritin; phlebotomy; allogeneic HCT

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