We have monitored the serum concentrations of hematopoietic growth factors (HGFs; ie, stem cell factor [SCF], leukemia inhibitory factor [LIF], interleukin-3 [IL-3], IL-6, IL-8, and granulocyte colony- stimulating factor [G-CSF]) in 15 lymphoma/leukemia and 6 ovarian cancer patients undergoing autologous bone marrow (BM) or peripheral blood (PB) stem cell transplantation (SCT). Thus, the analysis was performed during and after high-dose chemotherapy (from day -6 to day - 1), at the time of SCT (day 0), and thereafter (through day +17). Despite the heterogeneity of these patients and their conditioning regimens, a consistent kinetic pattern was observed for all analyzed cytokines. Particularly, (1) SCF serum concentration did not significantly fluctuate. (2) High levels of LIF (approximately 250 to 450 pg/mL) before chemotherapy rapidly declined to markedly lower concentrations (approximately 10 ng/mL) starting from day -1 through day +17; (3) conversely, IL-3 level was low before treatment, sharply increased during chemotherapy, and rapidly returned to base-line level after SCT. Hypothetically, the sharp LIF decrease and IL-3 increase during chemotherapy may underlie the induction of stem cell cycling and differentiation caused by hematopoietic ablation. Furthermore, (4) IL-6 concentration was low before and immediately after chemotherapy, but increased starting from day +5, peaked at day +6 through 9 and then declined to baseline level from day +10 onward; (5) a strictly similar pattern was consistently observed for both G-CSF and IL-8 levels, in agreement with our previous studies. It is relevant that peak IL-6, G- CSF, and IL-8 concentrations were directly correlated to peak neutrophil numbers in the recovery phase, thus suggesting an important role for these cytokines in granulocyte rescue; in line with this interpretation, hematologic patients undergoing PBSCT (10 of 15) exhibited higher peaks of IL-6, G-CSF, and IL-8 and a more pronounced increase of neutrophil/platelet number than did hematologic cases undergoing BMSCT (5 of 15). Altogether, these studies indicate a coordinate pattern of cytokine release during hematopoietic ablation/recovery after chemotherapy and autologous SCT, the fluctuations of LIF and IL-3 levels during chemotherapy are seemingly related to stem cell recruitment, whereas the post-SCT increase of IL- 6, G-CSF, and IL-8 may underlie the neutrophil recovery.

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