Leukemia

Peter Charles pcharles at aecom.yu.edu
Mon Oct 9 18:16:51 EST 1995



On Mon, 9 Oct 1995, Graeme Price wrote:

> In article <4599lo$72b$1 at mhafm.production.compuserve.com>, Don 
> <100610.3343 at CompuServe.COM> wrote:
> 
> > Can leukemia be contracted through a transfusion of blood from 
> > someone who has leukemia?  What about colds and flus?
> 
> Influenza cannot be transmitted via blood, as the virus particles do not
> enter the blood stream in any number, and even if they did they would be
> neutralised by non-specific inhibitors in the serum rapidly.
> 
> Graeme


The same is probably true for colds-- they are generally caused by 
rhinoviruses, which also don't enter the blood stream to any great extent.
A more interesting scenario is the the transmission of leukemia.  To that
question I would have to say "it depends."   If the the donor had a leukemia
that was the result of infection with HTLV-I (Human T-cell Leukemia Virus 
type I, causative agent of Adult T-cell Leukemia and Tropical Spastic 
Paraparesis), then there is the very real possibility that the recipient
may also develope leukemia.  The leukemia would be the result of the 
virus (from the donor) infecting the recipient's T-cells, and would not be 
the donor's leukemia cells proliferating in the recipient.  If the donor
had a leukemia that was the result of some process other than the action 
of an infectious agent, then the recipient's immune system should be able to
recognize and destroy the foriegn malignant cells.  Unless, of course, the
recipient had some underlying immune deficiency. In that case, the donor 
is more at risk of graft-versus-host disease than leukemia anyway.  Sorry 
about the digression, the answer is "yes," in some circumstances, it is 
possible to contract leukemia from a blood transfusion.  Keep in mind 
that this is a *VERY* remote possibility-- HTLV-I is relatively uncommon in
the United States, and remains largely confined to intravenous drug abusers.

Peter Charles, PhD
Department of Pathology (Neuropathology)
Albert Einstein College of Medicine




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