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Chronobiol Int. 2002 Jan;19(1):101-27.

Rhythms in human bone marrow and blood cells.

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Department of Oncology, Haukeland Hospital, University of Bergen, Norway.


In 24h studies of bone marrow (BM), circadian stage-dependent variations were demonstrated in the proliferative activity of BM cells from subsets of 35 healthy diurnally active men. On an average, the percentage of total BM cells in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) synthesis phase was 188% greater at midday than at midnight (circadian rhythm: p = 0.018; acrophase or peak time of 13: 16h). Patients with malignant disease (n = 15) and a normal cortisol circadian rhythm showed higher fractions of BM cells in S-phase at midday. Colony-forming units--granulocyte/macrophage (CFU-GM), an indicator of myeloid progenitor cells, showed the same circadian variation as DNA S-phase (average range of change or ROC = 136%; circadian rhythm: p < 0.001; acrophase of 12:09h). Deoxyribonucleic acid S-phase and CFU-GM in BM both showed a circannual rhythm (p = 0.015 and 0.008) with an identical acrophase of August 12. The daily peak in BM glutathione content, a tripeptide involved in cellular defense against cytotoxic damage, preceded BM proliferative peaks by 4-5 h (ROC = 31-90%; circadian rhythm: p = 0.05; acrophase of 08:30h). Myeloid (ROC = 57%; circadian rhythm: p = 0.056; acrophase at 08:40h) and erythroid (ROC = 26%; circadian rhythm: p = 0.01; acrophase of 13:01h) precursor cells were positively correlated (r = 0.41; p < 0.001), indicating a circadian temporal relationship and equal influence on S-phase of total BM cells. Yield of positive selected CD34+ progenitor stem cells also showed significant circadian variation (ROC = 595%; circadian rhythm: p = 0.02; acrophase of 12:40h). Thus, the temporal synchrony in cell cycling renders BM cells more sensitive at specific times to hematopoietic growth factors and cell cycle-specific cytotoxic drugs. Moreover, proper timing of BM harvesting may improve progenitor cell yield. When using marker rhythms in the blood to allow for individualized timing of BM procedures, the times of low values in white blood corpuscles, neutrophils, and lymphocytes and high values in cortisol were predictive of the times of highest BM erythroid, myeloid, and total S-phase numbers occurring in the following 12 h.

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