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Stem Cells. 2003;21(5):557-67.

Neutralization of autocrine transforming growth factor-beta in human cord blood CD34(+)CD38(-)Lin(-) cells promotes stem-cell-factor-mediated erythropoietin-independent early erythroid progenitor development and reduces terminal differentiation.

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  • 1Leukocyte Biology Section, Basic Research Laboratory, Center for Cancer Research, NCI-Frederick, Frederick, Maryland 21702-1201, USA.


Transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1 exerts autocrine and paracrine effects on hematopoiesis. Here, we have attempted to evaluate the effect of endogenous TGF-beta1 on early erythroid development from primitive human hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and to assess the effects of TGF-beta1 on different phases of erythropoiesis. Cord blood CD34(+)CD38(-) lineage-marker-negative (Lin(-)) cells were cultured in serum-free conditions using various combinations of stem cell factor (SCF), erythropoietin (Epo), and TGF-beta-neutralizing antibody. Generation of erythroid progenitors was assessed using colony assay and flow cytometry. Terminal erythroid differentiation was examined when SCF/Epo-stimulated cells were recultured in the presence of Epo with and without TGF-beta1. Anti-TGF-beta augmented the proliferation of CD34(+)CD38(-)Lin(-) cells (day 21) in SCF-stimulated (6.4-fold +/- 1.5-fold) and SCF/Epo-stimulated (2.9-fold +/- 1.2-fold) cultures. Cells stimulated by SCF/Epo underwent similar levels of erythroid differentiation with and without anti-TGF-beta. While SCF alone stimulated the production of tryptase-positive mast cells, cells stimulated by SCF/anti-TGF-beta were predominantly erythroid (CD36(+)CD14(-) and glycophorin A positive). A distinct expansion of erythroid progenitors (CD34(+)CD36(+)CD14(-)) with the potential to form erythroid colonies was seen, revealing early Epo-independent erythroid development. In contrast, the kinetics of erythroid progenitor generation from primitive HSCs indicate that TGF-beta1 is not inhibitory in late erythropoiesis, but it accelerated the conversion of large BFU-E into colony-forming units-erythroid. Finally, TGF-beta1 accelerated Epo-induced terminal erythroid differentiation and resulted in a greater level of enucleation (22% +/- 6% versus 7% +/- 3%) in serum-free conditions. Serum addition stimulated enucleation (54% +/- 18%), which was lower (26% +/- 14%) with anti-TGF-beta, suggesting that optimal erythroid enucleation is Epo dependent, requiring serum factors including TGF-beta1.

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