Painkillers Could Prove Helpful in Stem-Cell Transplants
Inhibition of a prostaglandin with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs has been found to cause stem cells to leave marrow, where they could be harvested for patients with blood disorders
Aspirin-like drugs could improve the success of stem-cell transplants for patients with blood or bone-marrow disorders, a study suggests. The compounds coax stem cells from bone marrow into the bloodstream where they can be harvested for use in transplantation — and they do so with fewer side effects than drugs now in use.
For patients with blood disorders such as leukemia, multiple myeloma or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, transplantation of haematopoietic stem cells — precursor cells that reside in the bone marrow and give rise to all types of blood cell — can be an effective treatment.
Previous work has shown that prostaglandin E2, or PGE2, a lipid known to regulate multiple bodily reactions including pain, fever and inflammation, also has a role in keeping stem cells in the bone marrow. In the latest study, researchers show that in mice, humans and baboons, inhibition of PGE2 with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) causes stem cells to leave the bone marrow.
Releasing the stem cells
The team gave baboons and humans an NSAID called meloxicam. They saw a subsequent increase in the numbers of haematopoietic stem cells in the bloodstream.
The researchers think that the departure of stem cells is caused by the disturbance of a group of bone-forming cells called osteoblasts. These cells secrete a protein called osteopontin that hooks the stem cells to the bone marrow. Inhibiting PGE2 would disrupt the production of osteopontin.