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Blood. 1999 May 15;93(10):3338-46.

Characterization of mast cell-committed progenitors present in human umbilical cord blood.

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  • 1Department of Allergy and the Department of Experimental Surgery, National Children's Medical Research Center, Tokyo, Japan.


Human mast cells are derived from CD34(+) hematopoietic cells present in cord blood, bone marrow, and peripheral blood. However, little is known about the properties of the CD34(+) cells. We demonstrated here that mast cell progenitors that have distinct phenotypes from other hematopoietic cell types are present in cord blood by culturing single, sorted CD34(+) cells in 96-well plates or unsorted cells in methylcellulose. The CD34(+) mast cell-committed progenitors often expressed CD38 and often lacked HLA-DR, whereas CD34(+) erythroid progenitors often expressed both CD38 and HLA-DR and CD34(+) granulocyte-macrophage progenitors often had CD33 and sometimes expressed CD38. We then cultured single cord blood-derived CD34(+)CD38(+) cells under conditions optimal for mast cells and three types of myeloid cells, ie, basophils, eosinophils, and macrophages. Of 1,200 CD34(+)CD38(+) cells, we were able to detect 13 pure mast cell colonies and 52 pure colonies consisting of either one of these three myeloid cell types. We found 17 colonies consisting of two of the three myeloid cell types, whereas only one colony consisted of mast cells and another cell type. These results indicate that human mast cells develop from progenitors that have unique phenotypes and that committed mast cell progenitors develop from multipotent hematopoietic cells through a pathway distinct from myeloid lineages including basophils, which have many similarities to mast cells.

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