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Blood. 2004 Jan 1;103(1):325-32. Epub 2003 Sep 22.

Gene expression profiling in CD34 cells to identify differences between aplastic anemia patients and healthy volunteers.

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Hematology Branch, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


An immune pathophysiology for acquired aplastic anemia (AA) has been inferred from the responsiveness of the patients to immunosuppressive therapies and experimental laboratory data. To address the transcriptome of hematopoietic cells in AA, we undertook GeneChip analysis of the extremely limited numbers of progenitor and stem cells in the marrow of patients with this disease. We pooled total RNA from highly enriched bone marrow CD34 cells of 36 patients with newly diagnosed AA and 12 healthy volunteers for analysis on oligonucleotide chips. A large number of genes implicated in apoptosis and cell death showed markedly increased expression in AA CD34 cells, and negative proliferation control genes also had increased activity. Conversely, cell cycle progress-enhancing genes showed low expression in AA. Cytokine/chemokine signal transducer genes, stress response genes, and defense/immune response genes were up-regulated, as anticipated from other evidence of the heightened immune activity in AA patients' marrow. In summary, detailed genetic analysis of small numbers of hematopoietic progenitor cells is feasible even in marrow failure states where such cells are present in very small numbers. The gene expression profile of primary human CD34 hematopoietic stem cells from AA was consistent with a stressed, dying, and immunologically activated target cell population. Many of the genes showing differential expression in AA deserve further detailed analysis, including comparison with other marrow failure states and autoimmune disease.

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