TUESDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Biomarkers associated with
increased risk of relapse and death among patients with severe
aplastic anemia have been identified by U.S. researchers.
Aplastic anemia is a serious and even life-threatening condition
in which a person's bone marrow can't produce enough new blood
cells. Treatments included bone marrow transplantation or
This study included 183 patients with severe aplastic anemia who
underwent immunosuppressive therapy between 2000 and 2008. The
researchers examined changes in the length of the patients'
telomeres, which are cap-like structures at the end of chromosomes
that protect those ends from deterioration. Telomeres naturally
shorten as people age, but their length can also be shortened by
genetic factors or environmental stressors.
There was no association between telomere length and response to
immunosuppressive therapy, which was seen in 57 percent of the
patients. However, patients with shorter telomere length before the
start of treatment had an increased risk of disease relapse and
death, said Dr. Phillip Scheinberg, of the National Institutes of
Health, and colleagues.
The study appears online Sept. 21 in the
Journal of the American Medical Association.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more