AbstractBACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: The myelodysplastic syndromes comprise a heterogeneous group of neoplastic disorders characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis with an increased tendency to evolve to acute leukemia. Clinically, the common manifestations include peripheral blood cytopenias of one or more lineages and a normal to hyperplastic marrow. MDS has been defined on the basis of morphological criteria, namely the percentage of blast cells in the bone marrow, by the French-American-British study group. Scoring systems have been developed to include such factors as hemoglobin, leukocyte count and age in the evaluation of MDS prognosis. Although useful in the prediction of clinical course and design of therapy regimens, our understanding of the basis of MDS has come from recent advances in molecular analysis of these disorders. This review describes some of the established and recent contributions to our understanding of the molecular basis of the myelodysplastic syndromes. EVIDENCE AND INFORMATION SOURCES: The authors of the present review have been working in the field of myelodysplastic syndromes for several years and have contributed original papers on the molecular pathogenesis of these disorders. In addition, in the present review they have critically examined articles and abstracts published in journals covered by the Science Citation Index and Medline. STATE OF ART AND PERSPECTIVES: Cytogenetic anomalies and proto-oncogene abnormalities point to new understanding of the pathogenesis of MDS as a sequence of DNA lesions leading to the evolution of the pre-malignant clone. The prognostic significance of these factors in predicting leukemic transformation and survival remains controversial. Characterization of MDS cells in vitro in response to combinations of exogenous growth factors have not only provided valuable information regarding ineffective hematopoiesis in MDS but have provided a new insight into treatment of MDS. One major development in our understanding of MDS is the possible explanation for the apparent paradox of a cellular marrow in combination with peripheral cytopenias. Extensive premature programmed cell death or apoptosis has been reported to be at least partly responsible. It will remain to be seen whether this fundamental characteristic of myelodysplastic hematopoiesis will play a central role in the drug or genetic based therapy in the myelodysplastic syndromes.
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Vol. 82 No. 2 (1997): March, 1997 : Articles
Ferrata Storti Foundation, Pavia, Italy
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