Mononuclear Cell Telomere Attrition Is Associated with Overall Survival after Nonmyeloablative Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation for Hematologic Malignancies

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

After allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT), transplanted cells rapidly undergo multiple rounds of division. This may cause extensive telomere attrition, which could potentially prohibit further cell division and lead to increased mortality. We therefore characterized the development in telomere length after nonmyeloablative allo-HCT in 240 consecutive patients transplanted because of hematologic malignancies and tested the hypothesis that extensive telomere attrition post-transplant is associated with low overall survival. Telomere length was measured using quantitative PCR in mononuclear cells obtained from donors and recipients pretransplant and in follow-up samples from recipients post-transplant. Telomere attrition at 9 to 15 months post-transplant was calculated as the difference between recipient telomere length at 9 to 15 months post-transplant and donor pretransplant telomere length, divided by donor pretransplant telomere length. Although allo-HCT led to shorter mean telomere length in recipients when compared with donors, recipients had longer mean telomere length 9 to 15 months post-transplant than they had pretransplant. When compared with donor telomeres, recipients with extensive telomere attrition at 9 to 15 months post-transplant had low overall survival (10-year survival from 9 to 15 months post-transplant and onward: 68% in the tertile with least telomere attrition, 57% in the middle tertile, and 39% in the tertile with most attrition; log-rank P = .01). Similarly, after adjusting for potential confounders, recipients with extensive telomere attrition had high all-cause mortality (multivariable adjusted hazard ratio, 1.84 per standard deviation of telomere attrition at 9 to 15 months post-transplant; 95% confidence interval, 1.25 to 2.72; P = .002) and high relapse-related mortality (subhazard ratio, 2.07; 95% confidence interval, 1.14 to 3.76; P = .02). Taken together, telomere attrition may be a clinically relevant marker for identifying patients at high risk of mortality.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)496-504
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2019

ID: 226869303