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Concept: Hematopoietic stem cell


Graft-versus-host disease is one of the major transplant-related complications in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Continued efforts have been made to prevent the occurrence of severe graft-versus-host disease by eliminating or suppressing donor-derived effector T cells. Conventional immunosuppression does not adequately prevent graft-versus-host disease, especially in mismatched transplants. Unfortunately, elimination of donor-derived T cells impairs stem cell engraftment, and delays immunologic reconstitution, rendering the recipient susceptible to post-transplant infections and disease relapse, with potentially lethal consequences. In this review, we discuss the role of dynamic immune regulation in controlling graft-versus-host disease, and how cell-based therapies are being developed using regulatory T cells and other tolerogenic cells for the prevention and treatment of graft-versus-host disease. In addition, advances in the design of cytoreductive conditioning regimens to selectively target graft-versus-host disease-inducing donor-derived T cells that have improved the safety of allogeneic stem cell transplantation are reviewed. Finally, we discuss advances in our understanding of the tolerogenic facilitating cell population, a phenotypically and functionally distinct population of bone marrow-derived cells which promote hematopoietic stem cell engraftment while reducing the risk of graft-versus-host disease.

Concepts: Immune system, Immunology, Graft-versus-host disease, T helper cell, T cells, Organ transplant, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Hematopoietic stem cell


BACKGROUND: Inducing donor-specific tolerance in renal transplant patients could potentially prevent allograft rejection and calcineurin inhibitor nephrotoxicity. Combined kidney and hematopoietic stem cell transplant from an HLA-matched donor is an exploratory and promising therapy to induce immune tolerance. Investigtion of molecular mechanisms involved in the disease is needed to understand the potential process of cell therapy and develop strategies to prevent this immunologic rejection. METHODS: We enrolled nine patients in a clinical study in which cryopreserved donor hematopoietic stem cells were infused on days 2, 4, and 6 after kidney transplantation. One month post-transplant, 4 plasma samples were collected from combined transplants (C + Tx), and 8 plasma samples from patients with kidney transplantation alone (Tx). High abundance proteins in plasma were depleted and the two-dimensional liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry coupled with iTRAQ labeling was utilized to identify the protein profiling between the two groups. Clusters of up- and down-regulated protein profiles were submitted to MetaCore for the construction of transcriptional factors and regulation networks. Results and Discussion Among the 179 identified proteins, 65 proteins were found in C + Tx with at least a 2-fold change as compared with Tx. A subset of proteins related to the complement and coagulation cascade, including complement C3a,complement C5a, precrusors to fibrinogen alpha and beta chains,was significantly downregulated in C + Tx. Meanwhile, Apolipoprotein-A1(ApoA1), ApoC1, ApoA2, ApoE, and ApoB were significantly lower in Tx compared to C + Tx. Gene ontology analysis showed that the dominant processes of differentially expressed proteins were associated with the inflammatory response and positive regulation of plasma lipoprotein particle remodeling. CONCLUSIONS: Thus, our study provides new insight into the molecular events in the hematopoietic stem cell-induced immunologic tolerance.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Gene expression, Stem cell, Immunology, Organ transplant, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Hematopoietic stem cell


We previously reported that bone marrow grafts from matched sibling donors resulted in best graft-versus-host disease-free, relapse-free survival at 1-year post allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation. However, pediatric patients comprised the majority of bone marrow graft recipients in that study. To better define this outcome in adults and pediatric patients at 1- and 2-years post- allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation, we pooled data from University of Minnesota and Hopital Saint-Louis in Paris, France (n=1901). Graft-versus-host disease-free, relapse-free survival was defined as absence of grade III-IV acute graft-versus-host disease, chronic graft-versus-host disease (requiring systemic therapy or extensive stage), relapse and death. In adults, bone marrow from matched sibling donors (n=123) had best graft-versus-host disease-free, relapse-free survival at 1- and 2-years, compared with peripheral blood stem cell from matched sibling donors (n=540) or other graft/donor types. In multivariate analysis, peripheral blood stem cell from matched sibling donors resulted in a 50% increased risk of events contributing to graft-versus-host disease-free, relapse-free survival at 1- and 2-years than bone marrow from matched sibling donors. With limited numbers of peripheral blood stem cell grafts in pediatric patients (n=12), graft-versus-host disease-free, relapse-free survival did not differ between bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell graft from any donor. While not all patients have a matched sibling donor, graft-versus-host disease-free, relapse-free survival may be improved by preferential use of bone marrow for adults with malignant diseases. Alternatively, novel graft-versus-host disease prophylaxis regimens are needed to substantially impact graft-versus-host disease-free, relapse-free survival with the use of peripheral blood stem cell.

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Stem cell, Bone marrow, Graft-versus-host disease, Organ transplant, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, Hematopoietic stem cell


Trained innate immunity fosters a sustained favorable response of myeloid cells to a secondary challenge, despite their short lifespan in circulation. We thus hypothesized that trained immunity acts via modulation of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs). Administration of β-glucan (prototypical trained-immunity-inducing agonist) to mice induced expansion of progenitors of the myeloid lineage, which was associated with elevated signaling by innate immune mediators, such as IL-1β and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and with adaptations in glucose metabolism and cholesterol biosynthesis. The trained-immunity-related increase in myelopoiesis resulted in a beneficial response to secondary LPS challenge and protection from chemotherapy-induced myelosuppression in mice. Therefore, modulation of myeloid progenitors in the bone marrow is an integral component of trained immunity, which to date, was considered to involve functional changes of mature myeloid cells in the periphery.

Concepts: Immune system, Adenosine triphosphate, Bone marrow, Innate immune system, Immunology, Immunity, Hematology, Hematopoietic stem cell


Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in the bone marrow are able to differentiate into all types of blood cells and supply the organism each day with billions of fresh cells. They are applied to cure hematological diseases such as leukemia. The clinical need for HSCs is high and there is a demand for being able to control and multiply HSCs in vitro. The hematopoietic system is highly proliferative and thus sensitive to anti-proliferative drugs such as chemotherapeutics. For many of these drugs suppression of the hematopoietic system is the dose-limiting toxicity. Therefore, biomimetic 3D models of the HSC niche that allow to control HSC behavior in vitro and to test drugs in a human setting are relevant for the clinics and pharmacology. Here, we describe a perfused 3D bone marrow analog that allows mimicking the HSC niche under steady-state and activated conditions that favor either HSC maintenance or differentiation, respectively, and allows for drug testing.

Concepts: DNA, Cell, Stem cell, Bone marrow, Cellular differentiation, Hematology, Hematopoietic stem cell, Blood cells


Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) remain mostly quiescent under steady-state conditions but switch to a proliferative state following hematopoietic stress, e.g., bone marrow (BM) injury, transplantation, or systemic infection and inflammation. The homeostatic balance between quiescence, self-renewal, and differentiation of HSCs is strongly dependent on their interactions with cells that constitute a specialized microanatomical environment in the BM known as the HSC niche. Here, we identified the secreted extracellular matrix protein Del-1 as a component and regulator of the HSC niche. Specifically, we found that Del-1 was expressed by several cellular components of the HSC niche, including arteriolar endothelial cells, CXCL12-abundant reticular (CAR) cells, and cells of the osteoblastic lineage. Del-1 promoted critical functions of the HSC niche, as it regulated long-term HSC (LT-HSC) proliferation and differentiation toward the myeloid lineage. Del-1 deficiency in mice resulted in reduced LT-HSC proliferation and infringed preferentially upon myelopoiesis under both steady-state and stressful conditions, such as hematopoietic cell transplantation and G-CSF- or inflammation-induced stress myelopoiesis. Del-1-induced HSC proliferation and myeloid lineage commitment were mediated by β3 integrin on hematopoietic progenitors. This hitherto unknown Del-1 function in the HSC niche represents a juxtacrine homeostatic adaptation of the hematopoietic system in stress myelopoiesis.

Concepts: Inflammation, Bone, Cell, Extracellular matrix, Stem cell, Bone marrow, Stem cells, Hematopoietic stem cell


Aging is linked to functional deterioration and hematological diseases. The hematopoietic system is maintained by hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), and dysfunction within the HSC compartment is thought to be a key mechanism underlying age-related hematopoietic perturbations. Using single-cell transplantation assays with five blood-lineage analysis, we previously identified myeloid-restricted repopulating progenitors (MyRPs) within the phenotypic HSC compartment in young mice. Here, we determined the age-related functional changes to the HSC compartment using over 400 single-cell transplantation assays. Notably, MyRP frequency increased dramatically with age, while multipotent HSCs expanded modestly within the bone marrow. We also identified a subset of functional cells that were myeloid restricted in primary recipients but displayed multipotent (five blood-lineage) output in secondary recipients. We have termed this cell type latent-HSCs, which appear exclusive to the aged HSC compartment. These results question the traditional dogma of HSC aging and our current approaches to assay and define HSCs.

Concepts: Gene, Cell division, Stem cell, Bone marrow, Stem cells, Hematology, Hematopoietic stem cell, Blood cells


Immune system defects are at the center of aging and a range of diseases. Here, we show that prolonged fasting reduces circulating IGF-1 levels and PKA activity in various cell populations, leading to signal transduction changes in long-term hematopoietic stem cells (LT-HSCs) and niche cells that promote stress resistance, self-renewal, and lineage-balanced regeneration. Multiple cycles of fasting abated the immunosuppression and mortality caused by chemotherapy and reversed age-dependent myeloid-bias in mice, in agreement with preliminary data on the protection of lymphocytes from chemotoxicity in fasting patients. The proregenerative effects of fasting on stem cells were recapitulated by deficiencies in either IGF-1 or PKA and blunted by exogenous IGF-1. These findings link the reduced levels of IGF-1 caused by fasting to PKA signaling and establish their crucial role in regulating hematopoietic stem cell protection, self-renewal, and regeneration.

Concepts: Immune system, Organism, Cell division, Stem cell, Bone marrow, Stem cells, Cell biology, Hematopoietic stem cell


Bone marrow vascular niches sustain hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and are drastically remodeled in leukemia to support pathological functions. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells produce angiogenic factors, which likely contribute to this remodeling, but anti-angiogenic therapies do not improve AML patient outcomes. Using intravital microscopy, we found that AML progression leads to differential remodeling of vasculature in central and endosteal bone marrow regions. Endosteal AML cells produce pro-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic cytokines and gradually degrade endosteal endothelium, stromal cells, and osteoblastic cells, whereas central marrow remains vascularized and splenic vascular niches expand. Remodeled endosteal regions have reduced capacity to support non-leukemic HSCs, correlating with loss of normal hematopoiesis. Preserving endosteal endothelium with the small molecule deferoxamine or a genetic approach rescues HSCs loss, promotes chemotherapeutic efficacy, and enhances survival. These findings suggest that preventing degradation of the endosteal vasculature may improve current paradigms for treating AML.

Concepts: Angiogenesis, Stem cell, Mesenchymal stem cell, Bone marrow, Hematology, Leukemia, Acute myeloid leukemia, Hematopoietic stem cell


Recent efforts have attempted to convert non-blood cells into hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) with the goal of generating blood lineages de novo. Here we show that hematopoietic transcription factors Scl, Lmo2, Runx1 and Bmi1 can convert a developmentally distant lineage (fibroblasts) into ‘induced hematopoietic progenitors’ (iHPs). Functionally, iHPs generate acetylcholinesterase(+) megakaryocytes and phagocytic myeloid cells in vitro and can also engraft immunodeficient mice, generating myeloerythoid and B-lymphoid cells for up to 4 months in vivo. Molecularly, iHPs transcriptionally resemble native Kit(+) hematopoietic progenitors. Mechanistically, reprogramming factor Lmo2 implements a hematopoietic programme in fibroblasts by rapidly binding to and upregulating the Hhex and Gfi1 genes within days. Moreover the reprogramming transcription factors also require extracellular BMP and MEK signalling to cooperatively effectuate reprogramming. Thus, the transcription factors that orchestrate embryonic hematopoiesis can artificially reconstitute this programme in developmentally distant fibroblasts, converting them into engraftable blood progenitors.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Genetics, Bone marrow, In vivo, In vitro, Hematopoietic stem cell