The role of hematopoietic growth factors in transfusion medicine

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Hematopoietic growth factors have already had an enormous impact on transfusion practice by eliminating or reducing the need for red blood cell transfusions in a variety of anemic states characterized by an absolute or relative decrease in erythropoietin. In addition, GM-CSF and G-CSF have stimulated the production of autologous neutrophils in febrile neutropenic patients in whom granulocyte transfusions had been considered ineffective. With the discovery of c-Mp1 ligand and the promising results obtained with IL-11 and IL-3, a combination of growth factors that successfully stimulate platelet production may soon be identified. This first era in the clinical application of hematopoietic growth factors has been characterized largely by treatment of the patient to stimulate production of autologous cells or to enhance the ability of transplanted hematopoietic progenitor cells to repopulate the patient. The use of G-CSF to increase the yield of granulocytes harvested by apheresis procedures and to mobilize peripheral blood stem cells in allogeneic donors has initiated a new era in which the cell donor is treated to enhance cell production and enhance the repopulating ability of hematopoietic progenitor cells. As our understanding of hematopoiesis grows, scientists will be able to identify growth factors to overcome or correct deficient hematopoiesis. Increasingly, component transfusions will be reserved for life-threatening situations in which endogenous cell production cannot be stimulated or cell production will be too slow to prevent life-threatening events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-68
Number of pages46
JournalHematology/Oncology Clinics of North America
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


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