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New Biol. 1991 Jul;3(7):698-708.

Early fetal hematopoietic development from in vitro differentiated embryonic stem cells.

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Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP), Vienna, Austria.


In this report we describe the efficient hematopoietic differentiation of embryonic stem (ES) cells in vitro. When cultured in semisolid medium two of five ES cell lines efficiently generated embryoid bodies (EBs) containing blood islands in which hematopoietic cells from all six myeloid lineages could be detected. Among a variety of growth factors tested, only erythropoietin significantly increased blood island formation. We directly demonstrate the presence of hematopoietic progenitors in the EBs by employing an in vitro precursor assay. Colony-forming cells (CFC) of all myeloid lineages as well as bi- and multipotent (CFC-MIX) progenitors were readily identified, and a detailed time-course analysis of their appearance was performed. Despite a high frequency of CFC-MIX in vitro, we did not observe any spleen colony-forming cells (CFU-S) in vivo. We conclude that hematopoietic differentiation of ES cells under these conditions reflects formation of the complete range of blood cells found in the yolk sac of the early fetus. Therefore this system provides a unique model in which to study the earliest events of hematopoietic development in vitro.

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