Previous research has shown that patients who receive kidney transplants have an increased risk of an invasive form of skin cancer.
It is unclear if donor tissue contributes to cancer formation. In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation
, Philippe Ratajczak and colleagues at INSERM demonstrate that donor tissue can lead to caner formation in transplant recipients.
They examined tumor cells and transplant tissues from a small sample of kidney transplant patients that had subsequently developed skin squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). In one patient they identified the presence of skin tumor cells that were the same genotype as the donated kidney and contained a mutation in a known cancer-causing gene. Furthermore, cells with this mutation were present in kidney biopsy samples taken at the time of transplant. As Cai-Bin Cui and David Gerber from the University of North Carolina discuss in their accompanying commentary, this case study has important implications for cancer research and clinical care of transplant recipients.