Table of Contents
Colony-Stimulating Factors Definition
Colony-Stimulating Factors are molecules that stimulate the growth of leukocytes (white blood cells) in the bone marrow. The body produces minute quantities of CSFs to regulate leukocyte production, maintaining the various types of leukocytes at appropriate levels to meet the needs of immune function. CSF production increases during infection and other demands for higher quantities of white blood cells.
Colony-Stimulating Factors and Leukemia Treatment
In the 1990s researchers isolated the genes that encode CSFs, permitting the use of recombinant technology to create synthetic versions of CSFs for therapeutic applications. Today doctors administer CSFs to rapidly restore white blood cell production after immunoablation during the course of treatment for some forms of leukemia and certain other cancers for which bone marrow transplantation is a treatment option, and some chemotherapeutic regimens that are known to be very ablative to the white blood cells.
Immunoablation uses high-dose chemotherapy or radiation therapy to destroy the diseased bone marrow. During the approximately six weeks it takes for the transplanted bone marrow to begin producing new blood cells, the person has no immune function and is extremely vulnerable to infection. CSF therapy dramatically shortens this period of vulnerability, stimulating leukocyte production within days of the bone marrow transplantation.
Page last reviewed: