Lymphocyte Homeostasis in Acquired Aplastic Anemia is Associated With Short Telomeres

Hepatitis‐associated aplastic anemia (HAA) is a variant of acquired aplastic anemia (AA) in which immune‐mediated bone marrow failure (BMF) develops following an acute episode of seronegative hepatitis.

Dyskeratosis congenita (DC) is an inherited BMF syndrome characterized by the presence of short telomeres, mucocutaneous abnormalities, and cancer predisposition. While both conditions may cause BMF and hepatic impairment, therapeutic approaches are distinct, making it imperative to establish the correct diagnosis. In clinical practice, lymphocyte telomere lengths (TL) are used as a first‐line screen to rule out inherited telomeropathies before initiating treatment for AA. To evaluate the reliability of TL in the HAA population, we performed a retrospective analysis of TL in 10 consecutively enrolled HAA patients compared to 19 patients with idiopathic AA (IAA).

HAA patients had significantly shorter telomeres than IAA patients (P = 0.009), including four patients with TL at or below the 1st percentile for age‐matched controls. HAA patients had no clinical features of DC and did not carry disease‐causing mutations in known genes associated with inherited telomere disorders. Instead, short TLs were significantly correlated with severe lymphopenia and skewed lymphocyte subsets, features characteristic of HAA.

Our results indicate the importance of caution in the interpretation of TL measurements in HAA, because, in this patient population, short telomeres have limited specificity. Am. J. Hematol. 91:243–247, 2016. © 2015 The Authors. American Journal of Hematology Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Telomere length measurement

Telomere length (TL) measurements of peripheral blood lymphocytes were performed by fluorescence in situ hybridization coupled with flow cytometry (flow‐FISH) as a part of the clinical diagnostic evaluation by a CLIA‐certified TL testing center (Repeat Diagnostics, North Vancouver, Canada), that provides a reference to respective TL of age‐matched healthy controls.

The full text of this editorial can be found at the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Originally published online, Jan 22, 2016.

Disrupted lymphocyte homeostasis in hepatitis‐associated acquired aplastic anemia is associated with short telomeres by Daria V. Babushok, Anne‐Laure Grignon, Yimei Li, Jamie Atienza, Hongbo M. Xie, Ho‐Sun Lam, Helge Hartung, Monica Bessler and Timothy S. Olson