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Blood. 2001 Aug 15;98(4):1012-8.

An in vitro model of hematopoietic stem cell homing demonstrates rapid homing and maintenance of engraftable stem cells.

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  • 1The University of Massachusetts Cancer Center, Worcester, USA.


Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) homing is believed to rely heavily on adhesion interactions between stem cells and stroma. An in vitro assay was developed for adhesion of engraftable HSCs in bone marrow suspensions to pre-established Dexter-type long-term bone marrow culture stromal layers. The cell numbers in the adherent layer and supernatant were examined, along with the engraftment capability of adherent layer cells to indicate the number of HSCs that homed to in vitro stroma. The cell number in the supernatant declined over the 24-hour period. The number of test cells adhering to the stromal layer increased during the first hour and then fell at 6 and 24 hours. The number of test HSCs adhering to the stromal layer was substantial at 20 minutes, increased during the first hour, and then remained constant at 1, 6, and 24 hours of adhesion. These data indicate that adhesion of engraftable HSCs occurs quickly and increases during the first hour of contact with pre-established stroma, that adhesion plateaus within 1 hour of contact, and that HSCs maintain their engraftment capability for at least 24 hours of stromal adhesion. Long-term engraftment from test cells at more than 1 hour of adhesion represents 70.7% of the predicted engraftment from equivalent numbers of unmanipulated marrow cells, indicating that 2 of 3 test engraftable HSCs adhered. These findings demonstrate the usefulness of this model system for studying stem-stromal adhesion, allowing further dissection of the mechanism of HSC homing and exploration of possible manipulations of the process. (Blood. 2001;98:1012-1018)

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