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Bone Marrow Research
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 570796, 15 pages
Review Article

Future Perspectives: Therapeutic Targeting of Notch Signalling May Become a Strategy in Patients Receiving Stem Cell Transplantation for Hematologic Malignancies

1Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine, Haukeland University Hospital and Institute of Medicine, University of Bergen, N-5021 Bergen, Norway
2Medical Department, Haukeland University Hospital, N-5021 Bergen, Norway

Received 26 July 2010; Accepted 30 August 2010

Academic Editor: Joseph H. Antin

Copyright © 2011 Elisabeth Ersvaer et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The human Notch system consists of 5 ligands and 4 membrane receptors with promiscuous ligand binding, and Notch-initiated signalling interacts with a wide range of other intracellular pathways. The receptor signalling seems important for regulation of normal and malignant hematopoiesis, development of the cellular immune system, and regulation of immune responses. Several Notch-targeting agents are now being developed, including natural receptor ligands, agonistic and antagonistic antibodies, and inhibitors of intracellular Notch-initiated signalling. Some of these agents are in clinical trials, and several therapeutic strategies seem possible in stem cell recipients: (i) agonists may be used for stem cell expansion and possibly to enhance posttransplant lymphoid reconstitution; (ii) receptor-specific agonists or antagonists can be used for immunomodulation; (iii) Notch targeting may have direct anticancer effects. Although the effects of therapeutic targeting are difficult to predict due to promiscuous ligand binding, targeting of this system may represent an opportunity to achieve combined effects with earlier posttransplant reconstitution, immunomodulation, or direct anticancer effects.