Human hematopoietic stem cells stimulated to proliferate in vitro lose engraftment potential during their S/G2/M transit and do not reenter G0

Hanno Glimm, IL-Hoan Oh and Connie J. Eaves


An understanding of mechanisms regulating hematopoietic stem cell engraftment is of pivotal importance to the clinical use of cultured and genetically modified transplants. Human cord blood (CB) cells with lymphomyeloid repopulating activity in NOD/SCID mice were recently shown to undergo multiple self-renewal divisions within 6 days in serum-free cultures containing Flt3-ligand, Steel factor, interleukin 3 (IL-3), IL-6, and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor. The present study shows that, on the fifth day, the transplantable stem cell activity is restricted to the G1fraction, even though both colony-forming cells (CFCs) and long-term culture-initiating cells (LTC-ICs) in the same cultures are approximately equally distributed between G0/G1and S/G2/M. Interestingly, the G0 cells defined by their low levels of Hoechst 33342 and Pyronin Y staining, and reduced Ki67 and cyclin D expression (representing 21% of the cultured CB population) include some mature erythroid CFCs but very few primitive CFCs, LTC-ICs, or repopulating cells. Although these findings suggest a cell cycle–associated change in in vivo stem cell homing, the cultured G0/G1 and S/G2/M CD34+ CB cells exhibited no differences in levels of expression of VLA-4, VLA-5, or CXCR-4. Moreover, further incubation of these cells for 1 day in the presence of a concentration of transforming growth factor β1 that increased the G0/G1 fraction did not enhance detection of repopulating cells. The demonstration of a cell cycle–associated mechanism that selectively silences the transplantability of proliferating human hematopoietic stem cells poses both challenges and opportunities for the future improvement of ex vivo–manipulated grafts.

  • Submitted April 5, 2000.
  • Accepted August 24, 2000.
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