Cancer: cells hiding in skin cause new inflammation

A new Austrian study on cancer and transplantations was published in the “Journal of Experimental Medicine”. According to this, it was found that immune cells hidden in the skin as “sleepers” after stem cell transplants can spread through the bloodstream in many patients and cause inflammation, report Viennese researchers.

Liquidating these “tissue-resident, inactive T cells” prior to transplantation could reduce the risk of such defensive reactions, she explains.

Leukemia patients

In patients with blood cancer (leukemia), the transfer (transplantation) of healthy bone marrow or blood stem cells is often the only chance of a cure, according to Georg Stary’s researchers from the Research Center for Molecular Medicine (CeMM) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW).

They replace the body’s own sick blood cells that were previously destroyed with chemotherapy and radiation. This also eliminates T cells circulating in the body, which prevents them from messing with the donor cells.

Severe inflammation after the procedure

Even so, many patients who have had stem cell transplants suffer from inflammation, some of which is severe. This is due to tissue-based, inactive T cells that survive chemotherapy and radiation unscathed, they explain.

The researchers were able to find these immune cells in the blood of patients after stem cell transplants and prove that they had previously been in the skin. “Especially in the intestine, which is often affected by donor-versus-recipient reactions, we were able to find many cells that originally came from the skin,” they explain in a broadcast.

One should therefore try to deactivate the tissue-based T cells in the body before a transplant, the researchers believe. The study also showed that one can detect inflammatory reactions by means of a blood analysis, and that a tissue removal (biopsy) does not necessarily have to be carried out, which is much more uncomfortable for the patient.

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