Acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a major complication of bone marrow transplantation. In June 1 Journal of Clinical Investigation, Takanori Kuroiwa and colleagues from Hyogo College of Medicine, Nishinomiya, Japan show that hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) — a potent mitogen for hepatocytes — ameliorates acute graft-versus-host disease and promotes hematopoietic function.

Kuroiwa et al used a murine model of GVHD in which they performed repeated transfection of the human HGF cDNA by liposome injection into the gluteal muscle. This treatment inhibited apoptosis of intestinal epithelial cells and donor T-cell infiltration into the liver, thereby ameliorating the enteropathy and liver injury caused by acute GVHD. In addition, the HGF gene transfer induced an increase of extramedullary hematopoiesis by donor cells in the spleen and liver (J Clin Invest, 2001, 107:1365-1373).

These results open the possibility of the use of HGF gene therapy to control acute GVHD...

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