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Blood Cells Mol Dis. 1995;21(2):73-85.

Immuno-electron microscopy characterization of human bone marrow stromal cells with anti-NGFR antibodies.

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  • 1Fondazione Matarelli, IRCCS, Milano, Italy.


Human bone marrow stromal cells have been examined with an immuno-electron microscopy technique in order to better define their structure and function in normal hematopoiesis. Bone marrow fragments from normal donors, after mild permeabilization and glutaraldehyde prefixation were labeled with the Me20.4 Mab, which recognizes the low affinity nerve growth factor (NGFR) and was recently described as specifically identifying fibroblastic-like bone marrow stromal cells. Five nm gold immuno-conjugates served as markers. NGFR+ cells were showing either a star-shape, with long and convoluted dendritic projections, and branching with each other to form a complex system of lacunae upon which hematopoietic cells were arranged. Other NGFR+ cells had an elongated spindle-like morphology. NGFR+ dendrites were seen in close contact with each other and with the different hematopoietic cells, although definite junctions were never noticed. NGFR+ dendrites were also observed surrounding mature plasma cells, in close apposition with adipocytes or surrounding bone marrow sinusoids. These findings may give some clues about the function of the bone marrow stromal cells, which are known to be involved in the homing and recirculation of hemopoietic cells; in addition, the presence and distribution of NGFR in the bone marrow stroma may support the recent evidence of a co-stimulatory effect of NGF in early hematopoiesis.

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