Inherited bone marrow failure in the pediatric patient

Blood. 2022 Aug 11;140(6):556-570. doi: 10.1182/blood.2020006481.


Inherited bone marrow (BM) failure syndromes are a diverse group of disorders characterized by BM failure, usually in association with ≥1 extrahematopoietic abnormalities. BM failure, which can involve ≥1 cell lineages, often presents in the pediatric age group. Furthermore, some children initially labeled as having idiopathic aplastic anemia or myelodysplasia represent cryptic cases of inherited BM failure. Significant advances in the genetics of these syndromes have been made, identifying more than 100 disease genes, giving insights into normal hematopoiesis and how it is disrupted in patients with BM failure. They have also provided important information on fundamental biological pathways, including DNA repair: Fanconi anemia (FA) genes; telomere maintenance: dyskeratosis congenita (DC) genes; and ribosome biogenesis: Shwachman-Diamond syndrome and Diamond-Blackfan anemia genes. In addition, because these disorders are usually associated with extrahematopoietic abnormalities and increased risk of cancer, they have provided insights into human development and cancer. In the clinic, genetic tests stemming from the recent advances facilitate diagnosis, especially when clinical features are insufficient to accurately classify a disorder. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation using fludarabine-based protocols has significantly improved outcomes, particularly in patients with FA or DC. Management of some other complications, such as cancer, remains a challenge. Recent studies have suggested the possibility of new and potentially more efficacious therapies, including a renewed focus on hematopoietic gene therapy and drugs [transforming growth factor-β inhibitors for FA and PAPD5, a human poly(A) polymerase, inhibitors for DC] that target disease-specific defects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Aplastic* / complications
  • Anemia, Aplastic* / genetics
  • Anemia, Aplastic* / therapy
  • Bone Marrow Diseases* / complications
  • Bone Marrow Diseases* / genetics
  • Bone Marrow Diseases* / therapy
  • Bone Marrow Failure Disorders
  • Child
  • Dyskeratosis Congenita* / genetics
  • Dyskeratosis Congenita* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / complications
  • Pancytopenia* / complications