What really cures in autologous bone marrow transplantation? A possible role for dimethylsulfoxide

A. Toren, G. Rechavi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dimethylsulfoxide has long been known to be a potent inducer of differentiation of various malignant cells in animals and human beings. It is a toxic agent, and high concentrations are needed to induce differentiation. Other compounds that also have methylene groups and a polar/apolar architecture, and are needed in much smaller concentrations to induce differentiation, like hexamethylene bisacetamide have been developed. They are already used in trials in human beings. However dimethylsulfoxide still has a very important role in bone marrow transplantation, being added to the frozen marrow as a cryoprotectant. We suggest that dimethylsulfoxide may induce differentiation of malignant cells present in the marrow or alternatively in the body when it is infused back with the transplanted marrow. This may be an additional factor contributing to the success rate achieved in various malignancies treated by transplantation, especially autologous, complementing the traditional explanations which are based mainly on the high dose chemotherapy and the immunological manipulations that occur during transplantation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-498
Number of pages4
JournalMedical Hypotheses
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1993


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