"Our observations specifically link MCP-1 and macrophages as key contributors to the development of these tumors. MCP-1's essential role in supporting proliferation of HEs indicates that accessory cells, such as macrophages, play a significant role in facilitating the growth of these tumors," Gordillo said. "Antibody-based therapy that blocks MCP-1 may be effective in substantially limiting the incidence and quality of the malformation."
A new treatment option is needed because current therapies including steroids and alpha interferon have a number of high-risk side effects. Steroids suppress the immune system, stunt growth and development, and cause weight gain and irritability. Use of alpha interferon as a medication in children can cause irreversible neurologic damage. Surgical removal is too dangerous because of potential bleeding complications and skin loss.
"Most of these tumors show up in the first month of life. About 90 percent go away by themselves over time, but until they do, children are forced to accept a period of deformity, sometimes up to age 9," Gordillo said.
In addition to her Ohio State posts, Gordillo is director of the Hemangioma and Vascular Malformations Clinic at Columbus Children's Hospital, where she sees patients with HEs and other vascular tumors.
Sen, director of the laboratory of molecular medicine in OSU's Heart and Lung Research Institute, said this research lays the foundation for clinical trials testing the effectiveness of both antibody-based therapies and, even sooner, an experimental nutritional intervention for vascular malformations.
"Previous work in our lab has shown that a certain form of berry extract significantly regulates MCP-1 function," said Sen, who served as a mentor to Gordillo on this research.
Contact: Emily Caldwell
Ohio State University