History of Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation

  • Jaroslava SalmanEmail author
  • Kimberly Shapiro
  • Stephen J. Forman


Every year, thousands of people around the country are diagnosed with a blood cancer. Hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) is a potentially lifesaving treatment for more than 70 different diseases, including leukemia, lymphoma, myelodysplastic syndrome, inherited immune deficiency disorders, and others. The history of HSCT began in the wake of the first atomic bomb explosions and led to landmark observations about mice being protected from the lethal effects of ionizing radiation on the bone marrow by shielding their spleens with lead. Subsequent experiments allowed for further development of this revolutionary treatment modality and ultimate success in efforts to treat patients with hematological diseases which have previously been inevitably lethal. The history of HSCT is a timeline of many groundbreaking discoveries, and numerous scientific lessons learned in the early days of HSCT are still relevant today. Although much has been learned over the last decades, use of old and new insights in HSCT will continue to be combined to identify the most effective treatment options.


Autologous/allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant Graft-versus-host disease Irradiation Chemotherapy Human leukocyte antigen Donor Stem cells History 


Glossary of Terms


Cells derived from the same individual.


Cells obtained from a genetically distinct individual of the same species.

Cellular Factor

Aspect of the immune response related to white blood cells, rather than circulating antibodies.

CMV (Cytomegalovirus)

A herpes virus that becomes latent after primary infection and causes few symptoms in the general population. However, it can reactivate in immunosuppressed transplant patients and is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality due to infection of multiple organs including the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and central nervous system.

CSF (Colony-Stimulating Factors)

Proteins that bind to receptors on the surface of hematopoietic stem cells, activating them to proliferate and differentiate into a specific kind of blood cell.

Conditioning Regimen

Treatments used to prepare a patient for stem cell transplant. May involve chemotherapy, monoclonal antibody therapy, and radiation treatments of the entire body.


A process of cooling cells to very low temperatures to preserve structure and function.


Branch of genetics concerned with the structure and function of chromosomes.

HCT (Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation)

Also referred to as a bone marrow transplant, HCT is a procedure that infuses healthy blood stem cells into the body to replace diseased or damaged bone marrow.


The formation of blood.

HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen)

A protein marker found on most cells in the body used to determine a match for bone marrow.

Humoral Factor

Immune responses involving antibodies in body fluids.


Affecting mice or related rodents.

Myeloablative Chemotherapy

High-dose chemotherapy that kills cells in the bone marrow, including cancer cells and normal blood-forming cells in the marrow. It is usually followed by a bone marrow transplant.

PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction)

A technique used in molecular biology to amplify a single copy or a few copies of a piece of DNA. This can generate up to millions of copies of a particular DNA sequence for further study.


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Additional References

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaroslava Salman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kimberly Shapiro
    • 1
  • Stephen J. Forman
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and PsychologyCity of HopeDuarteUSA
  2. 2.Department of Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell TransplantationCity of HopeDuarteUSA

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