Inflammation linked to severity of blood cancer, study finds

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In a study from NYU Langone Health and elsewhere, scientists found that severe inflammation weakens the body’s ability to kill cancerous blood cells in people with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Experiments in human cells also found how increasing levels of inflammation, marked by an aggressive reaction of immune cells in the bone marrow, altered the makeup of immune B cells and T cells needed to fight the disease like it would an invading bacteria or virus.

In the study, researchers used bone marrow samples of 20 adults and 22 children with the deadly disease. They were able to score each patient’s level of inflammation.

These “iScores” were then correlated to survival rates, with those having the lowest iScores typically surviving the longest.

Leukemic patients with high iScores died at least four years earlier than those with low levels of inflammation.

The new “iScore” system can be added to existing tools for measuring AML severity and used by physicians and patients when deciding on immunotherapy, chemotherapy, or bone marrow transplantation.

The team says this scoring system provides an easy tool for physicians and patients to measure their risk from inflammation tied to their leukemia and to adjust their treatment plans accordingly to manage this risk.

Some patients in consultation with their medical providers may favor immunotherapy to boost immune cells needed to fight cancer if their inflammation score is high.

Others may favor alternative therapies in cases of low inflammation tied to their cancer because their immune system does not necessarily need reinforcement.

The study also showed that bone marrow levels of dysfunctional (atypical) immune B cells were also linked to inflammation in both adults and children with AML.

A dozen gene mutations, or errors in the genetic code, were found to be tied to high iScores and patients with severe cases of the disease.

Another key finding was that the effectiveness of some immune T cells, which directly attack cancer cells, was suppressed in child cases of leukemia with high inflammation but not in adult cases with high inflammation.

These study findings suggest that monitoring inflammation in patients with AML and possibly lowering inflammation levels with drug therapy should be considered as part of treatment for the disease.

If you care about inflammation, please read studies about vitamin D deficiency linked to chronic inflammation, and Tart cherry could help reduce inflammation.

For more information about inflammation, please see recent studies about new way to halt excessive inflammation, and results showing this diet may help reduce inflammation in COVID-19.

The study was conducted by Audrey Lasry et al and published in the journal Nature Cancer.

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