Chronic side effects that significantly decrease quality of life are common among leukemia and lymphoma patients who receive life-saving stem cell or bone marrow transplants.
In chronic Graft vs. Host Disease (GVHD), the differences between the donor bone marrow cells and the recipient's body often cause these immune cells to recognize the recipient's body tissues as foreign and the newly transplanted cells attack the transplant recipient's body. Symptoms can range from dry eyes and dry mouth, hair loss and skin rashes, vulnerability to infection, liver and lung and digestive tract disorders. For patients who received bone marrow or stem cells, it is estimated that 40-70 percent may experience chronic GVHD.
B cells, which produce proteins called antibodies, are one type of immune cell involved in GVHD. In a paper published in the journal, Blood, a team from the University of North Carolina's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, shows in the laboratory that B cells from patients with chronic GVHD are much more active than cells from patients without the disease. The team also outlines the cell signaling pathways that contribute to this increased activity - identifying a promising target for developing new therapies for the diseases. Jessica Allen, PhD, the paper's first author, says "We found that B cells from patients with active chronic GVHD were in a heightened metabolic state and resist programmed cell death."