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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Oct 10;92(21):9647-51.

The VLA4/VCAM-1 adhesion pathway defines contrasting mechanisms of lodgement of transplanted murine hemopoietic progenitors between bone marrow and spleen.

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Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, USA.


Selective lodgement or homing of transplanted hemopoietic stem cells in the recipient's bone marrow (BM) is a critical step in the establishment of long-term hemopoiesis after BM transplantation. However, despite its biologic and clinical significance, little is understood about the process of homing. In the present study, we have concentrated on the initial stages of homing and explored the functional role in vivo of some of the adhesion pathways previously found to mediate in vitro adhesion of hemopoietic cells to cultured BM stroma. We have found that homing of murine hemopoietic progenitors of the BM of lethally irradiated recipients at 3 h after transplant was significantly reduced after pretreatment of the donor cells with an antibody to the integrin very late antigen 4 (VLA4). This inhibition of marrow homing was accompanied by an increase in hemopoietic progenitors circulating in the blood and an increased uptake of these progenitors by the spleen. Similar results were obtained by treatment of the recipients with an antibody to vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), a ligand for VLA4. Furthermore, we showed that administration of the same antibodies (anti-VLA4 or anti-VCAM-1) to normal animals causes mobilization of hemopoietic progenitors into blood. These data suggest that hemopoietic cell lodgement in the BM is a regulatable process and can be influenced by VLA4/VCAM-1 adhesion pathway. Although additional molecular pathways are not excluded and may be likely, our data establish VCAM-1 as a BM endothelial addressin, analogous to the role that mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule (MAdCAM) plays in lymphocyte homing. Whether splenic uptake of hemopoietic progenitors is passive or controlled through different mechanisms remains to be clarified. In addition, we provide experimental evidence that homing and mobilization are related phenomena involving, at least partly, similar molecular pathways.

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