Tumor cells hidden in a transplanted organ can cause Kaposi sarcoma (KS) -- one of the most frequent transplant-related malignancies -- in the organ recipient, Mario Luppi and colleagues report in the May issue of Nature Medicine.
KS affects 1 in 200 transplant patients in the United States, a rate that is 400-500 times higher than among the general population. The researchers investigated KS transmission in five female organ recipients, who developed the disease after receiving organs from male donors. Using various techniques, the researchers confirmed that the tumors in these patients originated from the donor.
While previous studies have suggested that transplanted organs can transmit harmful viruses, the researchers report that viruses and virus-infected tumor cells can both be passed on to an organ recipient. The results, while still preliminary, highlight the potential for transmitting harmful diseases through transplanted organs, and the need for organ pre-screening.
Patrick Moore of Columbia University, New York, discusses this research in an accompanying News & Views piece.
Department of Oncology and Hematology
University of Modena and Reggio Emilia
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Patrick S. Moore
Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons
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