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Genetic Susceptibility to Obesity after Treatment for Childhood Leukemia

Research Corner

"Genetic Susceptibility to Obesity after Treatment for Childhood Leukemia"

Dr. Kala Kamdar


Roughly one fourth of all cancers in children are attributed to acute lymphoblastic leukemia ALL. While remarkable advances in therapy have made it possible to cure approximately 80% of children with ALL, these survivors still face long-term chronic health problems that are related to exposure to chemotherapy and radiation at a young age. In particular, several studies have shown that adult survivors of childhood ALL are more likely to be overweight or obese than the general population. This is significant because obesity is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease as well as other cardiovascular risk factors such as insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and hypertension.

Dr. Kala Kamdar, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, is using a recent grant from The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Translational Research Program to identify why some children with ALL are at risk for excessive weight gain (BMI>25) while others are not. To study this, she is working with the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, a massive multi-institutional study following thousands of childhood cancer survivors, including over 1200 long-term ALL survivors with banked DNA.

It is hypothesized that some children may have a genetic susceptibility to obesity after receiving chemotherapy and cranial irradiation for ALL. The age and gender of the child at the time of treatment is also thought to have some impact on development of side effects. Dr. Kamdar is examining detailed demographic information and individual height, weight, age, gender and treatment type, specifically dexamethasone exposure and cranial irradiation, to identify these connections (see Figure 1). Using DNA extracted from saliva, she is examining effects of single nucleotide and copy number polymorphisms to better understand how an individual?s genetic makeup affects their long-term weight gain after various ALL treatments. These results will be validated in an independent sample of at least 400 ALL survivors from Texas Children?s Hospital. It is hoped that this knowledge may help researchers develop early interventions to prevent this side effect of therapy and improve the lifelong health of these children.

Figure 1:

Figure 1: Dr. Kamdar's ALL research


Dr. Kala Kamdar, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, is a member of the Leukemia/Lymphoma Team and the Long-Term Survivor Team at Texas Children?s Hospital. She received her M.D. at University of Louisville and an M.S. in Epidemiology from the U.T. School of Public Health.  After a residency in internal medicine/pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati, she completed a clinical fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Baylor College of Medicine and a postdoctoral research fellowship in Cancer Prevention Research at U.T. M.D.

Dr. Kamdar can be reached at: kykamdar@txccc.org


last updated on Tuesday, May 10, 2011