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Blood. 1997 Feb 1;89(3):1089-99.

A murine model for human cord blood transplantation: near-term fetal and neonatal peripheral blood cells can achieve long-term bone marrow engraftment in sublethally irradiated adult recipients.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, USA.


The purposes of the research reported here were first to explore a murine model for human placental and umbilical cord blood transplantation and second to evaluate the engraftment ability of ex vivo cultured hematopoietic cells. Murine near-term fetal and neonatal peripheral blood (FNPB) cells, genetically marked with the human multiple drug resistance transgene (MDR1) were used for syngeneic transplants into sublethally irradiated adult mice. Donor cells were transplanted either fresh and untreated, or after ex vivo culture in the presence of the hematopoietic growth factors recombinant murine stem cell factor, recombinant human interleukin-3 (rHu IL-3), and rHu IL-6, in a liquid culture system. To evaluate, count, and characterize FNPB progenitor cell-derived colonies, neonatal mouse mononuclear cells were cultured directly in methylcellulose with growth factors. To assess their ex vivo expansion ability, FNPB mononuclear cells were first cultured in liquid medium for 3 to 8 days and then transferred to semisolid assay plates. Evaluation of the cell counts after liquid culture showed a 1.4- to 11.6-fold increase, and the numbers of colonies observed in methylcellulose were similar to those produced by fresh FNPB cells. Donor-type engraftment was demonstrated by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of the human MDR1 transgene in the peripheral blood of all surviving animals (5 of 7 recipients of the fresh, and 3 of 8 recipients of the ex vivo-cultured cells) 2 to 4 months after transplantation. The proportion of donor leukocytes in the peripheral blood of the recipients (chimerism) was evaluated using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis 4 to 6 months after transplantation and ranged from 2% to 26%. In addition, bone marrow cultures were obtained from two recipient animals: one had received fresh-untreated cells and was evaluated 8 months after transplant, the other had received ex vivo cultured cells and was tested 14 months after grafting. The derived hematopoietic colonies were tested by PCR and the transgene was detected, conclusively proving long-term engraftment of donor cells. These results indicate that FNPB transplants can be successfully performed in sublethally irradiated mice with and without ex vivo culture. Long-term donor-type engraftment with sustained chimerism has been demonstrated. Thus, murine neonatal blood grafts can be used as an animal model for cord blood transplantation for gene therapy studies where complete myeloablation is not desirable and partial replacement of defective marrow may be sufficient. Furthermore, the possibility of numerically expanding hematopoietic progenitor cells contained in neonatal blood without affecting their engraftment ability could facilitate use of cord blood grafts in adult recipients.

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