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Nat Med. 2010 Apr;16(4):475-82. doi: 10.1038/nm.2119. Epub 2010 Mar 21.

Pleiotrophin regulates the expansion and regeneration of hematopoietic stem cells.

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  • 1Division of Cellular Therapy, Department of Medicine, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA.


Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) self-renewal is regulated by both intrinsic and extrinsic signals. Although some of the pathways that regulate HSC self-renewal have been uncovered, it remains largely unknown whether these pathways can be triggered by deliverable growth factors to induce HSC growth or regeneration. Here we show that pleiotrophin, a neurite outgrowth factor with no known function in hematopoiesis, efficiently promotes HSC expansion in vitro and HSC regeneration in vivo. Treatment of mouse bone marrow HSCs with pleiotrophin caused a marked increase in long-term repopulating HSC numbers in culture, as measured in competitive repopulating assays. Treatment of human cord blood CD34(+)CDCD38(-)Lin(-) cells with pleiotrophin also substantially increased severe combined immunodeficient (SCID)-repopulating cell counts in culture, compared to input and cytokine-treated cultures. Systemic administration of pleiotrophin to irradiated mice caused a pronounced expansion of bone marrow stem and progenitor cells in vivo, indicating that pleiotrophin is a regenerative growth factor for HSCs. Mechanistically, pleiotrophin activated phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling in HSCs; antagonism of PI3K or Notch signaling inhibited pleiotrophin-mediated expansion of HSCs in culture. We identify the secreted growth factor pleiotrophin as a new regulator of both HSC expansion and regeneration.

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