Monday, 10 December 2012

URMC researchers accelerate blood stem cell recovery using PGE2

Scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center, have discovered that the Prostaglandin E2 drug accelerates the recovery of blood cells after receiving a bone marrow transplant. For now, they have only experimented on mice, but considering that more than 50.000 bone marrow transplantations take place each and every year, their research may make a significant contribution in the near future.

According to Laura M. Calvi, M.D. and her student Rebecca L. Porter, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) greatly boosts the body's ability to recover its blood cell numbers, following a radiation or chemotherapy treatment.

“Our research suggests exciting potential to remedy myelosuppression,”,“During the first six weeks or so after a transplant, patients can easily acquire serious infections due to low blood counts. It’s during this window that we’re investigating new opportunities for replenishing cells in the bone marrow, and understanding the mechanisms by which this occurs.” said Calvi.

Bone marrow, among other cells, also contains hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), the cells from which all blood cells are derived from. It is there where they live, divide and enter the blood stream. However, a couple of things like radiation or chemotherapy for leukaemia, serious blood disorders and some other conditions may kill the whole HSC population and thus a bone marrow transplant is required to save the patient's life.

But even after receiving a bone marrow transplant the danger isn't over, as the recipient's body still needs time to start producing new hematopoietic stem cells from the newly donored tissue. It takes many weeks for the blood cell numbers to return back to normal, and during this period all kinds of complications may arise.

A bone marrow transplant

Calvi's research on mice showed that early treatment with PGE2, following a bone marrow transplantation, can significantly improve the final outcome. Their experiments have showed that PGE2 accelerates proliferation of the new, healthy HSCs and also reduces the numbers of cells being killed after radiation exposure.

“Having the ability to manipulate the function of hematopoietic stem cells in this context offers new and meaningful approaches for the clinic,. Patients face very serious consequences when the bone marrow doesn’t make enough platelets and other blood cells, and few options are currently available to aid the recovery.”, he said.

PGE2 is known in medicine as dinoprostone and is used for treating stomach ulcers. It is sold under various trademark names including Cervidil (Forest Laboratories), Prostin E2 (Pfizer), Propess (by Ferring Pharmaceuticals) and Glandin (Nabiqasim Pharmaceuticals Pakistan). It is also used as a vaginal suppository that induces labour.

Porter RL, Georger M, Bromberg O, McGrath KE, Frisch BJ, Becker MW, & Calvi LM (2012). Prostaglandin E2 Increases Hematopoietic Stem Cell Survival and Accelerates Hematopoietic Recovery after Radiation Injury. Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio) PMID: 23169593

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