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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Sep 12;92(19):8901-5.

Modification of rhodamine staining allows identification of hematopoietic stem cells with preferential short-term or long-term bone marrow-repopulating ability.

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Department of Hematology, University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.


We have developed a modified rhodamine (Rho) staining procedure to study uptake and efflux in murine hematopoietic stem cells. Distinct populations of Rho++ (bright), Rho+ (dull), and Rho- (negative) cells could be discriminated. Sorted Rho- cells were subjected to a second Rho staining procedure with the P-glycoprotein blocking agent verapamil (VP). Most cells became Rho positive [Rho-/Rho(VP)+ cells] and some remained Rho negative [Rho-/Rho(VP)- cells]. These cell fractions were characterized by their marrow-repopulating ability in a syngeneic, sex-mismatch transplantation model. Short-term repopulating ability was determined by recipient survival for at least 6 weeks after lethal irradiation and transplantation--i.e., radioprotection. Long-term repopulating ability at 6 months after transplantation was measured by fluorescence in situ hybridization with a Y-chromosome-specific probe, by graft function and recipient survival. Marrow-repopulating cells were mainly present in the small Rho- cell fraction. Transplantation of 30 Rho- cells resulted in 50% radioprotection and > 80% donor repopulation in marrow, spleen, and thymus 6 months after transplantation. Cotransplantation of cells from both fractions in individual mice directly showed that within this Rho- cell fraction, the Rho-/Rho(VP)+ cells exhibited mainly short-term and the Rho-/Rho(VP)- cells exhibited mainly long-term repopulating ability. Our results indicate that hematopoietic stem cells have relatively high P-glycoprotein expression and that the cells responsible for long-term repopulating ability can be separated from cells exhibiting short-term repopulating ability, probably by a reduced mitochondrial Rho-binding capacity.

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