Hypocellular or hypoplastic myelodysplastic syndromes (HMDS) are a distinct subgroup accounting for 10-15% of all MDS patients, that are characterized by the presence of bone marrow (BM) hypocellularity, various degree of dysmyelopoiesis and sometimes abnormal karyotype. Laboratory and clinical evidence suggest that HMDS share several immune-mediated pathogenic mechanisms with acquired idiopathic aplastic anemia (AA). Different immune-mediated mechanisms have been documented in the damage of marrow hematopoietic progenitors occurring in HMDS; they include oligoclonal expansion of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), polyclonal expansion of various subtypes of T helper lymphocytes, overexpression of FAS-L and of the TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), underexpression of Flice-like inhibitory protein long isoform (FLIPL) in marrow cells as well as higher release of Th1 cytokines, such as interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α). It has also been documented that some HMDS patients have higher frequency of polymorphisms linked both to high production of proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α and transforming growth factor-β and to the inhibition of T-cell mediated immune responses such as interleukin-10, further suggesting that immune-mediated mechanisms similar to those seen in AA patients may also operate in HMDS. Clinically, the strongest evidence for immune-mediated hematopoietic suppression in some HMDS is the response to immunosuppression including mainly cyclosporine, anti-thymocyte globulin and/or cyclosporine, or alemtuzumab. Here we review all these immune mechanisms as well as the influence of this deranged cellular and humoral immunologic mileau on the initiation and possible progression of MDS. All these observations are pivotal not only for a better understanding of MDS pathophysiology, but also for their immediate clinical implications, eventually leading to the identification of MDS patients who may benefit from immunosuppression.
- myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS)