Significance of chimerism in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: new variations on an old theme

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Abstract

Summary:

The main goal of post-transplantation monitoring in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is to predict negative events, such as disease relapse, graft rejection and graft-versus-host disease, in order to intervene with appropriate therapy. In this context, chimerism analysis is an important method in monitoring post HSCT outcome. Mixed chimerism (MC) is mainly evaluated to define engraftment and relapse. Detection of MC is a prerequisite in both myeloablative and nonmyeloablative HSCT, in order to assess the graft status and decide later therapeutic strategies such as donor lymphocyte infusion. In this review, we discuss various techniques including erythrocyte phenotyping, cytogenetic analysis, fluorescent in situ hybridization, restriction fragment length polymorphism, STR/VNTR analysis and real-time quantitative PCR, along with the various methods used to detect minimal residual disease (MRD) in different diseases such as chronic myeloid leukemia, acute myelomonocytic leukemia or acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The review mainly highlights the optimal methodological approach, which needs to be informative, sensitive and quantitatively accurate for MC detection. Future of post HSCT graft monitoring lies in the selection of the most accurate and sensitive technique to determine both MC and MRD. Such an approach would be helpful in not only determining relapse or rejection, but also in ascertaining various responses to different treatment modalities.

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