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Alpha-smooth muscle actin is expressed in a subset of bone marrow stromal cells in normal and pathological conditions.

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Department of Pathology, University of Düsseldorf, School of Medicine, Federal Republic of Germany.


A series of 217 trephine bone marrow biopsies from adult patients and specimens from 16 fetuses and 5 infants were examined for the presence of stromal myoid cells (MCs) using a monoclonal antibody recognizing alpha-smooth muscle actin. In the normal adult bone marrow, stromal cells did not contain alpha-smooth muscle actin, whereas during fetal life, many alpha-smooth muscle actin-containing MCs were connected with vascular sinusoids in the primitive bone marrow. This cell type reappeared in various characteristic distribution patterns in adult bone marrow during different neoplastic and non-neoplastic conditions including metastatic carcinoma, Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, hairy cell leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia (FAB M4, 5, 7) and chronic myelo-proliferative diseases. In general, the appearance of MCs was associated with a slight to pronounced increase in the deposition of reticulin and collagen fibers. We propose that bone marrow MCs represent a distinct subpopulation of fiber-associated or adventitial reticular cells undergoing cytoskeletal remodeling in response to various stimuli.

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