Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Blood cells, molecules & diseases


Gaucher disease (GD) is characterized by accumulation of glucosylceramide in lysosomes due to mutations in the GBA1 gene encoding the lysosomal hydrolase β-glucocerebrosidase (GCase). The disease has a broad spectrum of phenotypes, which were divided into three different Types; Type 1 GD is not associated with primary neurological disease while Types 2 and 3 are associated with central nervous system disease. GCase molecules are synthesized on endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-bound polyribosomes, translocated into the ER and following modifications and correct folding, shuttle to the lysosomes. Mutant GCase molecules, which fail to fold correctly, undergo ER associated degradation (ERAD) in the proteasomes, the degree of which is one of the factors that determine GD severity. Several pharmacological chaperones have already been shown to assist correct folding of mutant GCase molecules in the ER, thus facilitating their trafficking to the lysosomes. Ambroxol, a known expectorant, is one such chaperone. Here we show that ambroxol increases both the lysosomal fraction and the enzymatic activity of several mutant GCase variants in skin fibroblasts derived from Type 1 and Type 2 GD patients.

Concepts: Brain, Gaucher's disease, Cell, Neurology, Nervous system, Central nervous system, Glucocerebrosidase, Endoplasmic reticulum


Approximately 80% of α-thalassemia mutations are deletions in the α-globin cluster on chromosome 16 and about 10% of β-thalassemia mutations are deletions in the β-globin gene cluster on chromosome 11. Larger deletions involving the β-globin gene cluster lead to (δβ)-, (γδβ)-, (εγδβ)-thalassemia, or hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin (HPFH). Array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) was applied to screen for deletions in the α- and β-globin gene clusters not detected by routine gap-PCR. In total, in 13 patients with hypochromia and inclusion bodies (IBs) the α-globin gene cluster was analyzed and in 13 patients with increased fetal hemoglobin levels with or without hypochromia the β-globin gene cluster was examined. All samples were subsequently investigated by multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA). In 9 out of 13 patients deletions of the α-globin gene cluster were identified; 5 of these deletions remove the entire α-globin cluster and extend to the telomere. Additional sequencing of the remaining 4 patients revealed polyadenylation mutation in 1 of them. 7 deletions were identified in the β-globin gene cluster in 13 patients. Additional sequencing of the remaining 6 patients revealed mutations in one of the γ-globin gene promoters in 3 of them and a KLF1-mutation in 1 of them. Array CGH is a reliable method to screen for deletions in thalassemia and hemoglobinopathy. The method offers the advantage of a high resolution with the possibility to characterize breakpoints on sequence level.

Concepts: Comparative genomic hybridization, Gene, Array comparative genomic hybridization, Fetal hemoglobin, Genetics, Chromosome, DNA, Hemoglobin


BACKGROUND: The impact of obesity on hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) outcome remains controversial and has been considered a relative contraindication for the procedure. We investigated the influence of Body Mass Index (BMI) on the clinical course of adults undergoing an ambulatory HSCT after a non-myeloablative conditioning regimen. METHODS: Adults with hematologic diseases undergoing an autologous or allogeneic HSCT after reduced intensity conditioning (RIC) and supported exclusively with enteral nutrition (EN) were studied. BMI and body fat were sequentially determined. Patients were divided into three BMI subgroups: underweight; normal, and overweight/obese. RESULTS: Seventy-seven patients with a median follow-up of 21months were evaluated. Fourteen (18.2%) were underweight, 21 (27.3%) had a normal weight, and 42 (54.5%) were overweight/obese. A significant weight loss was observed among all three weight groups after HSCT (P=0.014). No correlation was found between time to engraftment and BMI (P=0.91), serum albumin (P=0.387), and fasting glucose (P=0.64), nor between BMI and acute (P=0.456) or chronic (P=0.209) graft versus host disease (GVHD). On multivariate analysis a higher overall survival (OS) was documented for obese patients (P=0.037). DISCUSSION: A BMI >30/kg/m(2) was independently associated with a higher survival rate after HSCT. Obese patients should not be excluded as transplant candidates based only on this parameter.

Concepts: Adipose tissue, Weight loss, Body shape, Nutrition, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Obesity, Body mass index, Graft-versus-host disease


Alpha thalassemia (α-thal) is one of the most common genetic disorders in the world. It is characterized by the absence or reduced expression of α-globin genes. The frequency of α-thal mutations in the province of Hatay in South Turkey is unknown. Therefore, in the present study, we aimed to investigate the spectrum of α-thal mutations in this province. Three hundred and nine patients were tested for α-thal mutations by using reverse dot blot hybridization technique and nine different mutations were detected in 97 of them. Among the 9 different mutations found, the most frequent mutations were the -α(3.7) (43.81%), -α2(-5nt) (6.70%), - -(MED) (5.67%) and α2(Poly A2) (2.57%). In the present study, - -(FIL) mutation was detected in a patient for the first time in Turkey. Our results indicated that α-thal mutations are highly heterogeneous and -α(3.7) is the most prevalent mutation in Hatay province of South Turkey. In addition, - -(FIL) mutation was detected in a patient for the first time in Turkey. This new finding may contribute to the establishment of a national mutation database and genetic counseling.

Concepts: Provinces of Turkey, Mutation, Antakya, Hatay Province, Genetic disorder, Turkey, DNA, Genetics


UGT1A1 enzyme defects are responsible of both Gilbert syndrome (GS) and Crigler-Najjar syndrome (CNS). GS depends on a variant TATAA element (which contains two extra TA nucleotides as compared to the wild type genotype) in the UGT1A1 gene promoter resulting in a reduced gene expression. On the contrary, CNS forms are classified in two types depending on serum total bilirubin concentrations (STBC): the more severe (CNS-I) is characterized by high levels of STBC (342-684μmol/L), due to total deficiency of the UGT1A1 enzyme, while the milder one, namely CNS-II, is characterized by partial UGT1A1 deficiency with STBC ranging from 103 to 342μmol/L. GS and CNS are caused by genetic lesions involving a complex locus encoding the UGT1A1 gene. The present report provides an update of all reported UGT1A1 gene mutations associated to GS and CNS.

Concepts: Jaundice, Transcription, Bilirubin, Crigler-Najjar syndrome, Gilbert's syndrome, Genetics, Gene, DNA


BACKGROUND: β-Thalassemia is a disorder caused by mutations at the hemoglobin β-gene (HBB) locus. Its most important manifestation, the major form, is characterized by severe hypochromic and hemolytic anemia and is inherited in an autosomal recessive mode. In Gaza Strip, Palestine 0.02% of the population has been identified as β-thalassemia major. DESIGN AND METHODS: An assessment of mutations was performed in 49 transfusion dependent patients with β-thalassemia major and in 176 β-thalassemia carriers diagnosed with a mean erythrocyte cell volume (MCV) <80fl and a proportion of HbA(2)>3.5%. In addition 39 individuals suspicious for β-thalassemia carrier status due to a reduced MCV (<80fl) but a normal HBA(2) were screened. RESULTS: By screening with three hybridization assays a proportion of 80% of the thalassemic chromosomes from patients and carriers was identified to carry five different mutations of the hemoglobin (Hb) β-gene. Subsequent DNA sequencing confirmed these and revealed further 9% of the chromosomes to be affected by other mutations. In addition six chromosomes from suspicious carriers were detected to carry β-thalassemia mutations. Of the 15 different HBB mutations identified the variant IVS-I-110 G>A was the most frequent mutation identified in 34% of the thalassemic chromosomes, followed by IVS-I-1 G>A, IVS-I-6 T>C, Codon 39 C>T, and Codon 37 G>A. Three novel HBB variants were discovered by direct sequencing of the gene: 5' UTR-50 (-/G), 5' UTR-43 C>T, and IVS-II-26 T>G. CONCLUSIONS: The spectrum of HBB mutations described is of the Mediterranean type whereby the allele frequencies of the most common mutations differ from those, which were previously described for the population of the Gaza Strip and other Palestinian populations. The data presented may promote the introduction of molecular testing to the Palestinian premarital screening program for β-thalassemia in Gaza Strip, which will improve the screening protocol and genetic counseling in the future.

Concepts: Second Intifada, Hamas, Gaza, Palestinian National Authority, Palestinian territories, Israel, DNA, Gaza Strip


Sickle cell anemia (SCA) is characterized by abnormally shaped, adhesive RBCs that interact with white blood cells and the endothelium, leading to chronic hemolysis, vasculopathy and a prothrombotic state. About 10% of subjects with a thrombotic event in the general population will have an associated antiphospholipid (aPL) antibody. One proposed mechanism for the thrombophilic nature of aPL antibodies is the disruption of the potent anticoagulant annexin A5 or Annexin A5 resistance (A5R). We designed a pilot study assessing the presence of aPL antibodies and disruption of A5R in pediatric sickle cell subjects.

Concepts: Antibody, Immune system, Protein, White blood cell, Blood, Sickle-cell disease, Blood transfusion, Red blood cell


Despite sickle cell disease (SCD) first being reported >100years ago and molecularly characterized >50years ago, patients continue to experience severe morbidity and early mortality. Although there have been substantial clinical advances with immunizations, penicillin prophylaxis, hydroxyurea treatment, and transfusion therapy, the only cure that can be offered is hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). In this work, we summarize the various allogeneic curative approaches reported to date and discuss open and upcoming clinical research protocols. Then we consider gene therapy and gene editing strategies that may enable cure based on autologous HSCs.

Concepts: Cell, Severe combined immunodeficiency, Organ transplant, Hematopoietic stem cell, Adrenoleukodystrophy, Gene, Sickle-cell disease, Medicine


Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of clonal hematopoietic disorders related to hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell dysfunction. Several studies have shown the role of the bone marrow microenvironment in regulating hematopoietic stem, and progenitor function and their individual abnormalities have been associated with disease pathogenesis. In this study, we simultaneously evaluated hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), hematopoietic stem progenitor cells (HSPCs) and different stromal elements in a cohort of patients with MDS-refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia (RCMD). Karyotyping of these patients revealed variable chromosomal abnormalities in 73.33% of patients. Long-term HSC and lineage-negative CD34+CD38- cells were reduced while among the HPCs, there was an expansion of common myeloid progenitor and loss of granulocyte-monocyte progenitors. Interestingly, loss of HSCs was accompanied by aberrant frequencies of endothelial (ECs) (CD31+CD45-CD71-) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) (CD31-CD45-71-) and its subsets associated with HSC niche. We further demonstrate down-regulation of HSC maintenance genes such as Cxcl12, VEGF in mesenchymal cells and a parallel upregulation in endothelial cells. Altogether we report for the first time quantitative and qualitative de novo changes in hematopoietic stem and its associated niche in a cohort of MDS-RCMD patients. These findings further reinforce the role of different components of the bone marrow microenvironment in MDS pathogenesis and emphasize the need for comprehensive simultaneous evaluation of all niche elements in such studies.

Concepts: Refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia, Cell biology, Hematopoietic stem cell, Myelodysplastic syndrome, Stem cell, Stem cells, Mesenchymal stem cell, Bone marrow


Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) has evolved from an effective research tool to a non-invasive clinical modality with versatile applications. The accuracy of volume measurements and functional assessment and the ability to identify unique myocardial tissue characteristics non-invasively are the primary advantages of CMR. The use of CMR in sickle cell disease (SCD) has been limited clinically to myocardial iron assessment. The use of other CMR applications to characterize the cardiac pathology in SCD is slowly emerging but remains limited to research level. In this review, we discuss some of the applications of CMR in studying cardiovascular diseases and its potential uses in SCD for research and clinical purposes.

Concepts: Sickle, Magnetic resonance imaging, Sickle-cell disease