Researchers from the Keio University, School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan have discovered that epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays a role in damage in the eye after bone marrow transplantation. These results are presented in the December 2009 issue of The American Journal of Pathology.
After bone marrow transplantation, transplanted immune cells can recognize the graft recipient as foreign (similar to how the immune system recognizes bacteria as foreign), resulting in an attack on host tissues. When this attack occurs in the eye, it may lead to vision loss and excessive fibrosis.
EMT, which is characterized by a change in cells from adherent to mobile, has been implicated in fibrotic diseases. Ogawa et al therefore explored the potential role of EMT in eye disease following bone marrow transplantation. They observed several features of EMT in eyes after bone marrow transplantation including down-regulation of adhesion molecules and up-regulation of EMT markers in epithelial cells. These results indicate that EMT may be at least partially responsible for fibrotic eye damage in patients following bone marrow transplantation.
Ogawa et al suggest that "a full understanding of the contribution of different extracellular triggers in … fibrosis [in the eye] will elucidate the mechanism of the dynamic process of EMT [in transplanted cell attack on the new host] and improve the quality of life of patients [after bone marrow transplantation]."
- Ogawa et al. Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition in Human Ocular Chronic Graft-Versus-Host Disease. American Journal Of Pathology, 2009; DOI: 10.2353/ajpath.2009.090318
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