Abstract

Background Acquired bone marrow failure syndrome (BMF) is a group of diseases include aplastic anemia(AA), melodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and paraoxymal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH). Some BMF patients have short telomeres in their peripheral nucleated cells. The length of telomere is maintained by a group of enzymes called telomerase complex. The core components of this complex are a RNA template and a reverse transcriptase, called TERC and TERT, respectively. Recently several studies in the west and Japan have disclosed the presence of telomerase complex gene mutation in a small group of patients with acquired bone marrow failure. They speculated that this small group of patients might represent a subset of cryptogenic Dyskeratosis Congenita (DKC), in which the premature exhaustion of hematopoietic reservoir is caused by mutations in the telomerase gene. This group of patients, though very small in number, would benefit from early bone marrow transplantation instead of traditional immunosuppressive therapy. The incidence of aplastic anemia in Chinese people is relatively high compared with that in the western country. But there has so far been no study in China about the incidence of telomerase gene mutation in acquired bone marrow failure and its relationship with telomere length.

Objectives To study the incidence of telomerase gene (namely TERC and TERT ) mutation in Chinese patients with acquired bone marrow failure and explore its relationship with telomere shortening.

Methods Blood samples from 90 patients with AA, MDS, and PNH in northern China were collected and performed TERC and TERT mutation analysis. Telomere length was measured by Southern blotting and compared with their normal counterparts.

Results 2 TERC mutations (n37 A→G, reported previously ; n66G→C) and 2 TERT mutations (n1870G→T (E/*); n1780G→T (S/I) ) were identified in 90 BMF patients. Among them, 3 mutations are reported first time. 1 patient with TERT mutation, however, was finally diagnosed as DKC instead of acquired AA, making the incidence of telomerase gene mutation in Chinese people with acquired bone marrow failure 3.4%, similar to that of the western people. Southern Blot analysis showed the small group of patients carrying TERC and TERT mutations has very short telomeres, compared with normal controls and with their aplastic counterparts.

Conclusions The incidence of telomerase gene mutation in Chinese people with acquired bone marrow failure is 3.4%, similar to that of the western people. This small group of patients has very short telomeres, it is thus clinically important to screen for this small group of patients.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

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