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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2000;917:29-37.

Neurohormones and catecholamines as functional components of the bone marrow microenvironment.

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Center for Experimental Pathology, Istituto Cantonale di Patologia, Locarno, Switzerland.


A variety of cytokines and growth factors exert a finely tuned control on the complex series of proliferative and differentiative events called hematopoiesis. Recent studies have shown that neuroendocrine and neural factors may also regulate hematopoiesis. In particular, besides its important immunoenhancing properties, the pineal neurohormone melatonin can also rescue hematopoiesis from the toxic effect of anti-cancer drugs via the action of T-helper cell novel opioid cytokines. In turn, these substances bind kappa-opioid receptors expressed in GM-CSF-activated macrophage-like stromal cells and seem to stimulate IL-1. Adrenergic agents can also affect hematopoiesis. We demonstrated that pre-B cells express alpha 1B-adrenoceptors (alpha 1B-AR) and that their activation by catecholamines results in suppressed myelopoiesis in vitro or protection in vivo against supralethal doses of carboplatin. Most recently, we found that alpha 1B-AR gene knockout mice show a deranged hematopoietic recovery after sublethal irradiation. Regeneration of pre-B cells (the cell type expressing alpha 1B-AR) and of erythrocytes was much faster in knockout than in wild-type mice. Most interesting, bone marrow cells can synthesize both melatonin and catecholamines. As far as melatonin is concerned, human and murine bone marrow cells contain and synthesize melatonin at a concentration that is three orders of magnitude higher than that normally found in serum. Catecholamines are also present in substantial amounts and originate both from nerve endings and bone marrow cells. These findings open interesting new perspectives and include hematology among the disciplines that would benefit from the integrative NIM approach.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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