A Guide Through Bone Marrow Transplantation

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Bone marrow, also known as myeloid tissue, are soft, spongy and gelatinous tissues inside the interior of bones. It is located in axial and long bones of the human body. About 4 per cent of our total body weight is the average weight of this tissue. They are the producers of new blood cells, a process known as hematopoiesis. It consists of stem cells which line the bone marrow and are also known as progenitor cells. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells which after differentiation develop into specialized cells. Bone marrow produces 200 billion new red blood cells everyday, along with white blood cells and platelets.

Bone marrow chronology

Towards the end of fetal formation, these tissue starts developing in the clavicle before birth. It is activated three weeks later. During fetal development, the liver performs the function of hematopoiesis. Bone marrow, however, takes over the main hematopoietic functions from liver from 32 to 36 weeks of gestation.

Due to huge production of blood cells, bone marrow turns red. Until the age of seven, it remains red due to continuous formation of blood.

Classification of bone marrow

They are of two types- red and yellow bone marrows. Bone marrow stem cells are of two types, namely mesenchymal and hemotopoietic stem cells. Red marrow consists of hematopoietic stem cells which mainly produce blood cells. They produce white and platelet cells as well.Yellow marrow, on the other hand, consists of mesenchymal cells that produce fat, cartilage, and bones.

Red marrow mainly consists of flat bones of the skeletal system. They are highly vascular in nature.
Yellow marrow is found in the diaphyseal portion of the shaft of long bones. Their main function is to store adipocyte cells.

As we age, fatty tissues accumulate more leading to the greater occurrence of yellow marrow. Exceptions include when there is heavy loss of blood, then the yellow fat tissues are converted to the red bone marrow to meet continuous supply of blood.

Why is bone marrow so important?

All the blood cells produced have fixed life span. After the expiry of their life cycle, these cells need to be replaced with new blood cells in the circulation.

Red bone marrow consists of hematopoietic stem cells that produce – myeloid stem cells and lymphoid stem cells which are the precursors of red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets. The new blood cells produced travel into the blood vessels of bone cavity to be transported for circulation to various organs. Lymphatic stem cells develop into lymphoblast which produces white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes consist of natural killer cells, T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes. These cells are important for transportation of oxygen and immunity of the body. They are responsible for blood clotting and tissue healing process. They also help in the identification of diseased and damaged cells and apoptosis of these cells.

Source: Medscape

Bone marrow disorders

Bone marrow can suffer from diseases or damage leading to low production of blood cells. Following are the diseases associated with it:

  • Leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Lymphomas
  • Thalassemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Gaucher disease
  • Myeloproliferative disorders
  • Myelodysplastic syndromeWay ahead

Way ahead

Diagnosis of these disorders can be done by examination of bone marrow. The procedure involves taking a small sample of the marrow and examining it. These diseases can also be treated with bone marrow transplantation.

In this case, bone marrow from a matching donor is transplanted into the patient with diseased or damaged bone marrow. This transplantation can be done both in the case of cancerous and non-cancerous diseases.

Why is marrow transplant needed?

After a transplant, the transplanted bone marrow help in rebuilding the body’s blood cell producing capacity and generate the normal level of blood cells. The new bone marrow help to replace damaged or diseased marrow leading to a renewal of immune system, restore its normal function and regenerate marrow which may have been damaged by chemotherapy for cancer treatment.

Scenario in India

India is also reaping the benefits of modernisation in medical sector with the latest state- of-the-art infrastructure and emerging specialist doctors. Success rates of the bone marrow transplantation in India are not only high but are also cost-effective. In India, the cost of treatment is less than those in Western and European countries with same success and efficiency.The transplantation is a complex medical procedure which requires scrutiny under expert guidance and monitoring. The entire process is affordable with a view for pre and post treatment for holistic recovery. In Healing Touristry, we believe each patient is unique with specific areas for attention. We ensure the personalized approach to your treatment, keeping in mind your requirement.

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