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Leukemia. 2001 Sep;15(9):1347-58.

Stromal support augments extended long-term ex vivo expansion of hemopoietic progenitor cells.

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  • 1Institute of Hematology, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Current technology to numerically expand hemopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPC) ex vivo within 1 to 2 weeks is insufficient to warrant significant gain in reconstitution time following their transplantation. In order to more stringently test the parameters affecting HSPC expansion, we followed ex vivo cultures of CD34+-selected umbilical cord blood (UCB) HSPC for up to 10 weeks and investigated the effects of stromal support and cytokine addition. The cytokine combinations included FL + TPO, FL + TPO plus SCF and/or IL6, or SCF + IL6. To identify the HSPC in uncultured and cultured material, we determined the number of colony-forming cells (CFC), cobblestone area forming cells (CAFC), the NOD/SCID repopulating ability (SRA), and CD34+ subsets by phenotyping. The highest fold-increase obtained for CD34+ and CD34+ CD38- cell numbers was, respectively, 1197 and 30,937 for stroma-free and 4066 and 117,235 for stroma-supported cultures. In general, CFC generation increased weekly in FL + TPO containing groups up to week 5 with a 28- to 195-fold expansion whereafter the weekly CFC output stabilized. Stroma support enhanced the expansion of CAFC week 6 maximally 11-fold to 89-fold with FL + TPO + IL6. Cultures stimulated with at least FL + TPO gave an estimated 10- to 14-fold expansion of the ability of CD34+ UCB cells to multilineage engraft the BM of sublethally irradiated NOD/SCID mice at 2 weeks of stroma-free and stroma-supported cultures, while at week 5 and later the estimated SRA decreased to low or undetectable levels in all groups. Our results show that stroma and FL + TPO but also inclusion of bovine serum albumin, greatly increase the long-term generation of HSPC as measured by in vitro assays and is indispensable for long-term expansion of CD34+ CD38- CXCR4+ cells. However, the different surrogate methods to quantify the HSPC (CD34+ CD38-, CFC, CAFC week 6 and SRA) show increasing incongruency with increasing culture time, while especially the phenotypic analysis and the CFC generation greatly overestimate the CAFC and SRA expansion in 10-week cultures.

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