Autophagy and haematopoietic stem cell transplantation

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Allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) represents the only curative therapy for the majority of bone marrowderived cancers. Unfortunately, HSCT can result in serious complications such as graft-versus-host disease, graft failure and infection. In the last decade, there have been major advances in the understanding of the role of autophagy in many diseases and cellular processes. Recent findings have demonstrated a crucial role for autophagy in haematopoietic stem cell survival and function, antigen presentation, T-cell differentiation and response to cytokine stimulation. Given the critical requirement for each of these processes in HSCT and subsequent complications, it is surprising that the contribution of autophagy to HSCT per se is relatively unexplored. In addition, the increasing use of autophagy-modulating drugs in the clinic further highlights the need to understand the role of autophagy in allogeneic HSCT. This review will cover established and implicated roles of autophagy in HSCT, suggesting this pathway as an important therapeutic target for improving transplant outcomes.

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