Plasticity after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

Rovó, Alicia ; Gratwohl, Alois

In: Biological Chemistry, 2008, vol. 389, no. 7, p. 825-836

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    The postulated almost unlimited potential of transplanted hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) to transdifferentiate into cell types that do not belong to the hematopoietic system denotes a complete paradigm shift of the hierarchical hemopoietic tree. In several studies during the last few years, donor cells have been identified in almost all recipient tissues after allogeneic HSC transplantation (HSCT), supporting the theory that any failing organ could be accessible to regenerative cell therapy. However, the putative potential ability of the stem cells to cross beyond lineage barriers has been questioned by other studies which suggest that hematopoietic cells might fuse with non-hematopoietic cells and mimic the appearance of transdifferentiation. Proof that HSCs have preserved the capacity to transdifferentiate into other cell types remains to be demonstrated. In this review, we focus mainly on clinical studies addressing plasticity in humans who underwent allogeneic HSCT. We summarize the published data on non-hematopoietic chimerism, donor cell contribution to tissue repair, the controversies related to the methods used to detect donor-derived non-hematopoietic cells and the functional impact of this phenomenon in diverse specific target tissues and organs