Background: A number of cytokines secreted from the bone marrow stromal cells and circulating hormones related to bone, adipose tissue and glucose metabolism might be involved in the pathogenesis of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Methods: Serum levels of cytokines related to the metabolism of bone tissue [osteocalcin and parathyroid hormone (PTH)], adipose tissue (adiponectin, leptin and ghrelin) and glucose [insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1)] were determined in 72 patients suffering from MDS, mostly of the low-risk group according to FAB classification, and 41 healthy individuals (controls). Results: Adiponectin and osteocalcin serum levels were significantly elevated in the MDS patients. Leptin, insulin and IGF-1 serum levels were reduced. No difference was found in the serum levels of PTH and ghrelin. Leptin levels were reversibly associated with patient blast count. Conclusion: Increased serum levels of adiponectin and low levels of IGF-1 in MDS patients may counterbalance the increased rate of apoptosis in the pool of hematopoietic progenitors. Osteocalcin secreted by osteoblasts regulates the renewal and proliferation of hematopoietic stem cells. Hormones and cytokines either secreted by the cells of the bone marrow stroma or transferred by the microcirculation act on hematopoietic progenitors and may regulate their differentiation, apoptosis and proliferation rate in MDS.

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