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Blood. 2011 Apr 28;117(17):4460-6. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-08-303537. Epub 2011 Feb 22.

The replication rate of human hematopoietic stem cells in vivo.

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Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV, USA.


Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) replicate (self-renew) to create 2 daughter cells with capabilities equivalent to their parent, as well as differentiate, and thus can both maintain and restore blood cell production. Cell labeling with division-sensitive markers and competitive transplantation studies have been used to estimate the replication rate of murine HSCs in vivo. However, these methods are not feasible in humans and surrogate assays are required. In this report, we analyze the changing ratio with age of maternal/paternal X-chromosome phenotypes in blood cells from females and infer that human HSCs replicate on average once every 40 weeks (range, 25-50 weeks). We then confirm this estimate with 2 independent approaches, use the estimate to simulate human hematopoiesis, and show that the simulations accurately reproduce marrow transplantation data. Our simulations also provide evidence that the number of human HSCs increases from birth until adolescence and then plateaus, and that the ratio of contributing to quiescent HSCs in humans significantly differs from mouse. In addition, they suggest that human marrow failure, such as the marrow failure that occurs after umbilical cord blood transplantation and with aplastic anemia, results from insufficient numbers of early progenitor cells, and not the absence of HSCs.

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