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Blood. 1989 Jul;74(1):49-55.

Developmental regulation of erythropoiesis by hematopoietic growth factors: analysis on populations of BFU-E from bone marrow, peripheral blood, and fetal liver.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109.


Fetal hematopoiesis is characterized by expanding erythropoiesis to support a continuously increasing RBC mass. To explore the basis for this anabolic, nonhomeostatic erythropoiesis, the proliferative effect of recombinant hematopoietic growth factors on highly enriched hematopoietic progenitor cells from fetal and adult tissues were compared. Fetal hepatic BFU-E, unlike adult bone marrow (BM) or peripheral blood (PB) BFU-E, were capable of proliferating in response to erythropoietin in the absence of added GM colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) or interleukin-3 (IL-3), and erythropoietin (Epo) directly stimulated the expansion of the fetal BFU-E pool in suspension culture. A murine monoclonal antibody (MoAb), Ep 3, was raised against enriched fetal liver progenitor cells, which detected all fetal BFU-E and which reacted with the erythropoietin-responsive, GM-CSF/IL-3-independent fraction of adult BM BFU-E and CFU-E. All adult PB BFU-E were Ep 3- but became Ep 3+ after stimulation with GM-CSF or IL-3. These data indicate that Epo plays a unique role in fetal hepatic erythropoiesis, stimulating proliferation of immature BFU-E in addition to promoting terminal differentiation of later erythroid progenitor cells. In addition, these results demonstrate a MoAb which detects all erythropoietin-responsive progenitor cells and distinguishes the BFU-E compartments in adult BM and PB.

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