Leukemias and Lymphomas Come From Normal Blood Cells

This article was inspired by a paper I read as graduate student. I was fascinated by the observation that leukemia and lymphoma cells could be matched to a specific type of normal cell, and that they retained some of the functions of the normal cells. As an immunologist we use leukemia and lymphoma cells from patients to study the functions of normal cells and to develop specific treatments for these types of tumors. I’m happy to share these ideas with you and I hope that my article provides you with some useful and valuable information. Please let me know if you find the information useful or if you have any comments or suggestions for future topics you would like to learn about.

Cancers of the cells of the blood and immune system are called leukemias or lymphomas depending on where and in what kind of cell they originate. Leukemias originate in stem cells in the bone marrow, while lymphomas originate in mature cells in peripheral tissues such as lymph nodes. Leukemias and lymphomas arise from normal cells at a certain stage of maturation or differentiation. The leukemia and lymphoma cells retain many of the characteristics of the normal cells from which they are derived. The cells’ lineage, the kind of normal cell it started as, can tell us what kind of prognosis to expect. In some cases the cells’ physical and molecular characteristics can form the basis of specialized treatments aimed at one or more of these characteristics.

Leukemias and Lymphoas represent normal developing cells

Leukemias and Lymphomas Begin As Normal Cells

Leukemia and Lymphoma cells come from normal cells at a certain stage of differentiation. The type of cell the cancer comes from determines your diagnosis. Knowing what cell type leukemia or lymphoma cells look like allows us to place them on the map of normal blood cell development. Most leukemias come from immature cells in the bone marrow or thymus, while lymphomas usually come from mature T cells or B cells that have been reactivated in lymph node germinal centers.

Abbreviations: ALL, Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia; T-ALL, ALL with characteristics of T lymphocytes; B-ALL, ALL with characteristics of B lymphocytes; CLL, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia; CML, Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia; AML, Acute Myelogenous Leukemia; HL, Hodgkin’s’ Lymphoma; NHL, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; MM, Multiple Myeloma.

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Author: Steve Anderson, Ph.D.

Steve Anderson has a Ph.D. in Immunology with over 25 years experience in biomedical research. His scientific expertise includes immunology, immunological diseases, tumor immunology, virology, and HIV pathogenesis.