Painkillers Could Prove Helpful in Stem – Cell Transplants

Inhibition of a prostaglandin with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen and naproxen) has been found to cause stem cells to leave marrow, where they could be harvested for patients with blood disorders

By Thea Cunningham and Nature magazine

Bone marrow such as this being prepared for a transplant might be easier to extract with the help of aspirin-like drugs. Image: Tino Soriano/National Geographic Society/Corbis

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-Hodgkins 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.

At present, doctors use a drug called filgrastim to mobilize haematopoietic stem cells in donors or in patients undergoing autotransplantation (in which they receive their own stem cells). In patients with multiple myeloma or non-Hodgkins lymphoma, however, and in some donors, stem cells dont mobilize well with filgrastim and other drugs in its class. Using NSAIDs such as meloxicam could enhance filgrastims efficacy, says lead author Louis Pelus of the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. The study appears in Nature.

Meloxicam also has comparatively few side effects, says Pelus. He and his colleagues found that other NSAIDs, including aspirin and ibuprofen, can also mobilize haematopoietic stem cells, but these drugs can cause gastrointestinal upset in patients. PGE2 controls the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, and when you block that youve reduced your ability to control acid secretion. Meloxicam doesnt do that as badly as many of the other [drugs] do, he says.

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Painkillers Could Prove Helpful in Stem - Cell Transplants

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