Abstract A classic physiologic response to systemic hypoxia is the increase in red blood cell production. Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) orchestrate this response by inducing cell-type specific gene expression changes that result in increased erythropoietin (EPO) production in kidney and liver, in enhanced iron uptake and utilization and in adjustments of the bone marrow microenvironment that facilitate erythroid progenitor maturation and proliferation. In particular HIF-2 has emerged as the transcription factor that regulates EPO synthesis in the kidney and liver and plays a critical role in the regulation of intestinal iron uptake. Its key function in the hypoxic regulation of erythropoiesis is underscored by genetic studies in human populations that live at high-altitude and by mutational analysis of patients with familial erythrocytosis. This review provides a perspective on recent insights into HIF-controlled erythropoiesis and iron metabolism, and examines cell types that have EPO-producing capability. Furthermore, the review summarizes clinical syndromes associated with mutations in the O2 -sensing pathway and the genetic changes that occur in high altitude natives. The therapeutic potential of pharmacologic HIF activation for the treatment of anemia is discussed.
Abstract Body fluids contain surprising numbers of cell-derived vesicles which are now thought to contribute to both physiology and pathology. Tools to improve the detection of vesicles are being developed and clinical applications using vesicles for diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy are under investigation. The increased understanding why cells release vesicles, how vesicles play a role in intercellular communication, and how vesicles may concurrently contribute to cellular homeostasis and host defense, reveals a very complex and sophisticated contribution of vesicles to health and disease.
Abstract For many years, programmed cell death, known as apoptosis, was attributed exclusively to nucleated cells. Currently, however, apoptosis is also well-documented in anucleate platelets. This review describes extrinsic and intrinsic pathways of apoptosis in nucleated cells and in platelets, platelet apoptosis induced by multiple chemical stimuli and shear stresses, markers of platelet apoptosis, mitochodrial control of platelet apoptosis, and apoptosis mediated by platelet surface receptors PAR-1, GPIIbIIIa and GPIbα. In addition, this review presents data on platelet apoptosis provoked by aging of platelets in vitro during platelet storage, platelet apoptosis in pathological settings in humans and animal models, and inhibition of platelet apoptosis by cyclosporin A, intravenous immunoglobulin and GPIIbIIIa antagonist drugs.
Abstract Immunoglobulin light chain (AL) amyloidosis is the most common acquired systemic amyloidoses. Its presentation is often insidious and progressive, which may delay diagnosis. The interval between first symptoms and actual diagnosis along the intrinsic heterogeneity of tissue tropism create a wide spectrum of presentations, both in terms of scope and depth of symptoms and signs and functional status of patients. In this review, the authors review the pathogenesis, diagnosis and differential diagnosis of AL amyloidosis along with the prognosis and state-of-the-art management for patients with this affliction.
Abstract Thrombin is a pivotal player in the coagulation system. In clotting blood a transient wave of thrombin appears after a lag time. Clotting occurs at the start of the wave. The amount of thrombin formed reflects the function of the hemostatic system much better than the clotting time does: “The more thrombin the less bleeding but the more thrombosis, the less thrombin the more bleeding but the less thrombosis” has been shown to hold for congenital and acquired tendencies to venous thrombosis and bleeding and under all variants of antithrombotic treatment. The situation with arterial thrombosis is less clear. Calibrated automated thrombinography (CAT) allows quantitative assessment of the thrombin generation (TG) curve in platelet poor as well as in platelet rich plasma. Procedures to measure TG in whole blood and at the point of care are under development. TG measurement in platelet rich plasma underlines the close cooperation between platelets and the clotting system and challenges the traditional division between primary and secondary hemostases.
Abstract Hyperleukocytosis, arbitrarily defined in acute leukemia as a white blood cell count greater than 100,000/mL, often is associated with increased morbidity and mortality in patients with leukemic processes. It can induce leukostasis, tumor lysis syndrome and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy and has significant prognostic implications with or without one of these clinical complications. The main sites that tend to be injured from the obstructions are the central nerve system and lungs. Despite characteristic clinical presentations, the diagnosis of leukostasis is rarely made with high confidence. The main goal of the management of hyperleukocytosis and/or leukostasis is to reduce the white blood cell count before starting induction chemotherapy. The cytoreduction can be achieved by either leukapheresis and/or hyroxyurea. The technical aspects, complications and efficacy of leukapheresis are discussed in the current article.
Abstract Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) occurs at all ages but is the most common cancer of childhood. The current treatment of paediatric ALL is highly successful with up to 90% children being cured. In contrast, survival rates for adult ALL are significantly lower at around 40%. The discovery and characterisation of genetic abnormalities have increased our understanding of the biology of the disease and provided important prognostic and predictive markers which have improved patient outcome. Not only is the spectrum of these aberrations vast but, due to advances in technology, continually expanding. A wide range of chromosomal and genomic abnormalities have been reported as being associated with patient outcome but only a subset are currently used to risk stratify patients. This review highlights the main genetic abnormalities which are used to manage patients with B-cell precursor ALL and discusses the evidence which has been accumulated on several newly described genomic abnormalities.
Abstract Vitamin K-antagonists (VKA) are the most widely used anti-thrombotic drugs with substantial efficacy in reducing risk of arterial and venous thrombosis. Several lines of evidence indicate, however, that VKA inhibit not only post-translational activation of vitamin K-dependent coagulation factors but also synthesis of functional extra-hepatic vitamin K-dependent proteins thereby eliciting undesired side-effects. Vascular calcification is one of the recently revealed side-effects of VKA. Vascular calcification is an actively regulated process involving vascular cells and a number of vitamin K-dependent proteins. Mechanistic understanding of vascular calcification is essential to improve VKA-based treatments of both thrombotic disorders and atherosclerosis. This review addresses vitamin K-cycle and vitamin K-dependent processes of vascular calcification that are affected by VKA. We conclude that there is a growing need for better understanding of the effects of anticoagulants on vascular calcification and atherosclerosis.
Abstract Inherited hemoglobin-related disorders, which include the structural variants (hemoglobin S, C, and E) and the alpha (α)- and beta (β)-thalassemias, affect more than 300,000 children annually, particularly in malaria-endemic regions stretching from sub-Saharan Africa and the Mediterranean to Southeast Asia. Screening for carriers of these traits is important to provide prenatal genetic counseling and to accurately estimate the true prevalence and public health burden of these disorders. The clinical course of thalassemias, which affect nearly 70,000 children annually, is highly variable depending on the mixture of inherited alleles. The primary forms of non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia include β-thalassemia intermedia, hemoglobin E β-thalassemia, and hemoglobin H disease. Early clinical recognition of these disorders is essential to prevent affected children from being mistakenly placed on life-long transfusion therapy.
Abstract Iron overload due to increased intestinal iron absorption represents an important clinical problem in patients with non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia (NTDT), particularly as they advance in age. Current models for iron metabolism in patients with beta (β)-thalassemia intermedia (TI) suggest that suppression of serum hepcidin results in increased iron absorption and release of iron from the reticuloendothelial system, leading to depletion of macrophage iron, relatively low levels of serum ferritin, and liver iron loading. The clinical consequences of iron overload in patients with NTDT are multifactorial and include endocrinopathy, bone disease, thromboembolism, pulmonary hypertension, cerebrovascular and neuronal damage, liver fibrosis or cirrhosis, and increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. Although serum ferritin levels correlate with liver iron concentration (LIC), they underestimate iron load in these patients compared with transfusion-dependent patients with equivalent LIC. Therefore, direct measurement of LIC is recommended with chelation therapy as indicated.
Abstract Donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) using unstimulated leukapheresis is one of the most effective treatment strategies for patients with hematological malignancies; its graft-versus-leukemia effects make it especially effective in chronic myeloid leukemia patients who relapsed after allogeneic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT). However, DLI application is limited by the development of graft-versus-host disease and aplasia, and thus cannot be routinely applied for prophylaxis. Therefore, important questions remain to be answered, such as when, and whom to DLI? Recent advances enable DLI using allografts of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor-mobilized peripheral blood progenitor cells; allodepleted donor T cells; and infusions of donor-derived, ex vivo-expanded, CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocyte, which can decrease relapse and improve transplant outcomes. Preemptive immunotherapy of relapse was also introduced based on the determination of mixed chimerism and minimal residual disease. In this review, we summarize the latest developments in recent strategies that will affect future DLI efficacy — focusing on the disadvantages and advantages of each protocol for the treatment, preemptive therapy, and prophylaxis of relapse.
Abstract Ineffective erythropoiesis is the hallmark of beta-thalassemia that triggers a cascade of compensatory mechanisms resulting in clinical sequelae such as erythroid marrow expansion, extramedullary hematopoiesis, splenomegaly, and increased gastrointestinal iron absorption. Recent studies have begun to shed light on the complex molecular mechanisms underlying ineffective erythropoiesis and the associated compensatory pathways; this new understanding may lead to the development of novel therapies. Increased or excessive activation of the Jak2/STAT5 pathway promotes unnecessary disproportionate proliferation of erythroid progenitors, while other factors suppress serum hepcidin levels leading to dysregulation of iron metabolism. Preclinical studies suggest that Jak inhibitors, hepcidin agonists, and exogenous transferrin may help to restore normal erythropoiesis and iron metabolism and reduce splenomegaly; however, further research is needed.
Abstract Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a molecularly heterogeneous disease. Based on cytogenetics and FISH, AML patients are stratified into three major risk categories: favourable, intermediate and unfavourable. However, prognostic stratification and treatment decision for the intermediate risk category, that mostly comprises AML patients with normal cytogenetics (CN-AML), has been difficult due to the clinical heterogeneity and scarce knowledge of the molecular alterations underlying this large AML subgroup. During the past decade, the identification of several mutations associated with CN-AML has resulted into important advances in the AML field. In this review, we address the biological features of the main mutations associated with CN-AML and the impact of next generation sequencing studies in expanding our knowledge of the molecular landscape of CN-AML. In addition, we outline the prognostic value of mutations for risk stratification of CN-AML patients and discuss the potential of mutations discovery process for developing new molecular targeted therapies.
Abstract ALL blast cells express a variety of specific antigens e.g. CD19, CD20, CD22, CD33, and CD52, which serve as targets for Monoclonal Antibodies (MoAbs). So far, the most experience is available for anti-CD20 (rituximab), which has been combined with chemotherapy for treatment of mature B-ALL/Burkitt's lymphoma. Studies with rituximab have also been completed in B-precursor ALL. Another antigen, CD19, is of great interest due to a very high rate of expression in ALL. It can be targeted by a bispecific monoclonal antibody, Blinatumomab, directed against CD19 and CD3. Smaller studies or case reports are also available for the anti CD52 antibody (Alemtuzumab), for anti CD22 (Epratuzumab) or anti CD33 (Gemtuzumab). Available data demonstrate that MoAb therapy in ALL is a highly promising targeted treatment. However, several details for an optimal treatment approach e.g. the required level of antigen expression, timing, schedule, dosage and stage of disease still need to be defined.
Abstract The use of mobilized peripheral blood stem cells (PBSCs) has largely replaced the use of bone marrow as a source of stem cells for both allogeneic and autologous stem cell transplantation. G-CSF with or without chemotherapy is the most commonly used regimen for stem cell mobilization. Some donors or patients, especially the heavily pretreated patients, fail to mobilize the targeted number of stem cells with this regimen. A better understanding of the mechanisms involved in hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) trafficking could lead to the development of newer mobilizing agents and therapeutic approaches. This review will cover the current methods for stem cell mobilization and recent developments in the understanding of the biology of stem cells and the bone marrow microenvironment.
Abstract Palliative medicine provides active evaluation and treatment of the physical, psychosocial and spiritual needs of patients and families with serious illnesses, regardless of curability or stage of illness. The hematologic malignancies comprise diverse clinical presentations, evolutions, treatment strategies and clinical and quality of life outcomes with dual potential for rapid clinical decline and ultimate improvement. While recent medical advances have led to cure, remission or long-term disease control for patients with hematologic malignancy, many still portend poor prognoses and all are associated with significant symptom and quality of life burden for patients and families. The gravity of a diagnosis of a hematologic malignancy also weighs heavily on the medical team, who typically develop close and long-term relationships with their patients. Palliative care teams provide an additional layer of support to patients, family caregivers, and the primary medical team through close attention to symptoms and emotional, practical, and spiritual needs. Barriers to routine palliative care co-management in hematologic malignancies include persistent health professional confusion about the role of palliative care and its distinction from hospice; inadequate availability of palliative care provider capacity; and widespread lack of physician training in communicating about achievable goals of care with patients, family caregivers, and colleagues. We herein review the evidence of need for palliative care services in hematologic malignancy patients in the context of a growing body of evidence demonstrating the beneficial outcomes of such care when provided simultaneously with curative or life-prolonging treatment.
Abstract The complex relationship between the inflammatory response and vascular injury and repair is of major importance to the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. CRP is not only a strong marker for cardiovascular morbidity but a modulator that suppresses local and systemic thromboregulatory pathways. In the present review we address the question of whether CRP is involved in atherogenesis, in thrombosis, or in both components of the atherothrombotic process. While CRP is present in the atherosclerotic lesion, it is probably not pro-atherogenic and correlates only minimally with atherogenesis. Alas, CRP promotes thrombus formation and vascular occlusion. Thus, CRP is most likely not affecting atheroma build-up but rather the deleterious process of plaque vulnerability and thrombus formation. Dwelling into CRP mechanism of action may lead to the design of new diagnostic modalities that will add to the predictive value of CRP in identifying those patients at high cardiovascular risk. Furthermore, defining the mechanistic domain is the foundation to the cause–effect detection of possible therapeutic interventions to counter CRP morbid effects.
Abstract Central nervous system (CNS) relapse is an uncommon devastating complication of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) that usually occurs within 2 years from initial diagnosis. Its pathophysiology is poorly understood and there is no consensus on the definition of high-risk patients for CNS relapse. Consequently, an empirical and highly variable practice of chemoprophylaxis is employed. In this review we critically appraise the available literature in order to address issues related to ineffectiveness of current paradigms of chemoprophylaxis. The commonly used prophylaxis is derived from past experience with childhood acute leukemia where most early CNS relapses are leptomeningeal. In contrast, CNS involvement in DLBCL affects brain parenchyma in almost 60% of cases and thus intrathecal prophylaxis remains ineffective. We propose that CNS relapse in DLBCL is sometimes related to occult malignant cells present in the CNS at diagnosis. In others, CNS relapse is likely due to a later acquisition of CNS-penetrating subtypes of malignant clones. With lack of evidence for occult CNS involvement no strong indication currently exist that any form of chemoprophylaxis is beneficial. Future directions for evaluation and treatment of CNS disease are outlined. This complex and intriguing topic should be ideally investigated by prospective trials.
Abstract Because the current therapy in polycythemia vera (PV) and essential thrombocythemia (ET) is aimed at lowering the risk of thrombosis, the risk classification system in these disorders is shaped according to thrombotic risk. Patients with either PV or ET can be stratified in a “high-risk” or “low-risk” category according to their age and previous history of thrombosis. Whether novel risk factors such as leukocytosis and JAK2 mutation may be included in the prognostic stratification requires confirmation in prospective future clinical studies. The identification and appropriate management of cardiovascular risk factors and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle in chronic myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN), as in the general population, should be considered a cornerstone of vascular prevention. Blood hyperviscosity in PV is a major cause of vascular disturbances which severely impact on morbidity and mortality. An aggressive target of hematocrit lower than 45% in males and 42% in females has been advised by the European LeukemiaNet (ELN) group, although no convincing evidence of this recommendation is currently available. The efficacy and safety of low-dose aspirin (100 mg daily) in PV has been assessed in the European Collaboration on Low-dose Aspirin in Polycythemia (ECLAP) double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial. Translating evidence from the positive results of ECLAP to ET may be questionable. The most commonly used front-line therapy drugs for the treatment of high-risk PV and ET patients include hydroxyurea and alpha-interferon at any age while anagrelide is recommended as second line-therapy in resistant and intolerant ET patients. Busulphan is a front-line therapy in the elderly. By definition, children with ET are a population with low vascular risk unless a major thrombotic or hemorrhagic event has occurred. ELN recommends to prescribe cytoreductive drugs in children as a last resort. No results of clinical trials with JAK-2 inhibitor drugs in PV and ET are so far available.
Abstract The innate immune system orchestrated by leukocytes primarily neutrophils, serves to remove dead and dying host cells and to provide protection against invasion by pathogens. Failure of this system results in the onset of sepsis leading to grave consequences for the host. Together with mechanical methods to physically isolate and remove the pathogen, neutrophils also release an important set of proinflammatory biological modulators that mediate recruitment of additional cells to a site of infection and amplify the innate protective response. Additionally, neutrophils release highly charged mixtures of DNA and nuclear proteins named neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). These electrostatically-charged adhesive networks trigger intrinsic coagulation, limit dispersion and entrap the pathogens. NETs also contain the neutrophil secretary granule-derived serine proteases, neutrophil elastase and cathepsin G, known to regulate the reactivity of both neutrophils and platelets. Since the characterization of NETs in 2004, new studies of their functional effect in vivo continue to expand upon unexpected extracellular roles for DNA, and in doing so renew attention to the haemostatic role of the leukocyte. This review will provide a basic description of NETs and examine current knowledge of this important system of defense, including recent work illustrating a role for NETs in activation of thrombosis.