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Blood. 2003 May 15;101(10):3784-93. Epub 2003 Jan 2.

Functional receptor for C3a anaphylatoxin is expressed by normal hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, and C3a enhances their homing-related responses to SDF-1.

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Stem Cell Biology Program, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40202, USA.


Complement has recently been implicated in developmental pathways and noninflammatory processes. The expression of various complement components and receptors has been shown in a wide range of circulating myeloid and lymphoid cells, but their role in normal hematopoiesis and stem cell homing has not yet been investigated. We report that normal human CD34(+) cells and lineage-differentiated hematopoietic progenitors express the complement anaphylatoxin C3a receptor (C3aR) and respond to C3a. Moreover, C3a, but not the biologically inactive desArg-C3a, induces calcium flux in these cells. Furthermore, we found that C3 is secreted by bone marrow stroma and that, although C3a does not influence directly the proliferation/survival of hematopoietic progenitors, it (1) potentiates the stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1)-dependent chemotaxis of human CD34(+) cells and lineage-committed myeloid, erythroid, and megakaryocytic progenitors; (2) primes SDF-1-dependent trans-Matrigel migration; and (3) stimulates matrix metalloproteinase-9 secretion and very late antigen 4 (VLA-4)-mediated adhesion to vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1). Furthermore, we found that murine Sca-1(+) cells primed by C3a engrafted faster in lethally irradiated animals. These results indicate that normal human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells express functional C3aR and that the C3aR-C3a axis sensitizes the responses of these cells to SDF-1 and thus may be involved in promoting their homing into the bone marrow via cross talk with the SDF-CXC chemokine receptor-4 (CXCR4) signaling axis. C3a is the first positive regulator of this axis to be identified.

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