Mobilizing Blood-forming Stem Cells

Mobilizing Blood-forming Stem Cells

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) reside in the bone marrow and produce all of the body’s blood cells. Clinicians can stimulate HSCs to enter the bloodstream, where they can be harvested and used for bone-marrow transplantations to treat cancers and other conditions. But the mechanisms involved in mobilizing HSCs to leave the bone marrow were not well understood.

In a study published online on June 25 in Cell Stem Cell, David Fooksman, Ph.D., and colleagues used two-photon laser scanning microscopy to observe labeled HSCs in the bone marrow of living mice for several hours. HSCs were thought to remain stationary within the bone marrow, but the researchers found that they move around constantly. Blocking a receptor on HSCs called CXCR4 halts their movement in the bone marrow and mobilizes them to enter the bloodstream. The findings reveal the unexpectedly dynamic nature of HSCs while in the bone marrow and may lead to strategies for making more HSCs available in the blood for use in bone-marrow transplants.

Dr. Fooksman is an associate professor of pathology and of microbiology & immunology at Einstein.

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