Bone marrow engraftment: histopathology of hematopoietic reconstitution following allogeneic transplantation in CML patients

Histol Histopathol. 2001 Jan;16(1):213-26. doi: 10.14670/HH-16.213.


Following myelo-ablative treatment and allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) histopathological features assumed to exert a significant impact on engraftment have been rarely investigated systematically. This review is focused on immunohistochemical and morphometric techniques involving nucleated erythroid precursors, resident macrophages and their various subsets, megakaryocytes and finally argyrophilic (reticulin-collagen) fibers. Regarding standardized intervals of examination in the postgraft sequential trephine biopsies a pronounced reduction in cellularity was obvious and accompanied by a decrease in the quantity of erythro- and megakaryopoiesis. A significant correlation between the number of erythroid precursors and CD68+-macrophages could be determined in the areas of regenerating hematopoiesis. This finding is in keeping with the important functional role of the centrally localized mature macrophages during erythropoiesis. A relevant pretransplant reduction of the red cell lineage and an early to advanced reticulin fibrosis were correlated with a low hemoglobin level (anemia) and splenomegaly and furthermore associated with a significant delay to reach transfusion independence. This result was supported by corresponding findings in biopsy specimens performed shortly after day 30 following BMT (standard interval for assessment of engraftment). Samples revealed an enhancement of fiber density and a conspicuous decrease in the amount of erythropoiesis in the small fraction of patients who did not conform with the usually accepted criteria for successful hematopoietic reconstitution. Considering the compartment of histiocytic reticular cells the recurrence of Pseudo-Gaucher cells (PCGs) in the engrafted donor marrow was remarkable and most prominently expressed in the first two months following BMT. This feature was presumed to be functionally linked with a pronounced degradation of cell debris in the sequel of myelo-ablative therapy (scavenger macrophages). According to planimetric measurements in the postgraft bone marrow the atypical dwarf-like CD61+-megakaryocytes characteristic for CML disappeared. On the other hand, normalization of megakaryocyte size and nuclear lobulation were absent in sequential examination of the few patients developing a leukemic relapse. In a number of patients with manifest myelofibrosis at onset, an initial regression after BMT was followed by an insidiously occurring retrieval which was concentrated on the areas of reconstituting hematopoiesis. Similar to its relevant pretransplant association the postgraft reappearance of myelofibrosis was significantly correlated with the quantity of CD61+-megakaryocytes. Altogether a number of histological features in the pre-and postgraft bone marrow exhibited significant correlations with each other and thus indicated functional relationships. Moreover, quantity of erythropoiesis and amount of reticulin fibers (myelofibrosis) exerted a significant impact on engraftment status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation / pathology*
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation / physiology*
  • Hematopoiesis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / therapy*