Pro human neutrophil peptides (proHNP)s are proforms of α-defensins produced by precursors of human neutrophils. They are secreted to bone marrow plasma in large amounts by myelocytes. We hypothesized that the plasma concentration of proHNPs might serve as a specific marker of myelopoietic activity, heralding the onset of normal myelopoiesis before reappearance of neutrophils, in the setting of bone marrow regeneration. To investigate this, plasma levels of proHNPs were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in blood samples collected from patients undergoing allogeneic (n=11) or autologous (n=16) stem cell transplantations (SCTs) and patients receiving chemotherapy for acute leukemia (n=14). To compare proHNPs with previously suggested myeloid markers, myeloperoxidase (MPO), lysozyme and neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) were also assayed. In all but one patient, chemotherapy led to the complete disappearance of ProHNPs from plasma. It reappeared in plasma on average 6.3 days before reappearance of neutrophils in the allogeneic setting, whereas this was reduced to an average of 2.8 days in the autologous SCT patients who received granulocyte colony-stimulating factor. Patients with acute myeloid leukemia (n=19) had significantly lower levels of plasma proHNPs than healthy controls, indicating that proHNPs are not produced by leukemic blasts. We conclude that plasma concentration of proHNPs is a clinically useful marker of normal myelopoiesis.
Blood Cancer Journal, 2014, Vol 4, Issue 3, p. 1-7