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Blood. 1998 Feb 15;91(4):1196-205.

Transmigration of CD34+ cells across specialized and nonspecialized endothelium requires prior activation by growth factors and is mediated by PECAM-1 (CD31).

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Department of Haematology, Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, London, UK.


The transmigration of hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) across vascular endothelium is a critical step in the homing of transplanted stem cells, but the molecular basis for this is unknown. We used mobilized peripheral blood CD34(+) selected cells and cultured bone marrow microvascular (BMECs) and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) to investigate the adhesion and transendothelial migration of HPCs. Colony-forming cells (CFCs) in freshly isolated CD34(+) cells showed high levels of adhesion to both forms of endothelium (28% +/- 4% and 38% +/- 6% of granulocyte-macrophage colony-forming cells [GM-CFCs] adhering to HUVECs and BMECs, respectively), but were unable to migrate to any significant extent across either (1.0% +/- 0.3% and 1.1% +/- 0.6% of GM-CFCs migrating across HUVECs and BMECs, respectively). Greater than 95% of peripheral blood CD34(+) cells are in G0/G1 of the cell cycle, but after 48 to 72 hours of stimulation with growth factors (interleukin-3 [IL-3] 12 ng/mL, stem cell factor 10 ng/mL, and IL-6 10 ng/mL), 28% +/- 5% of cells were in S+G2/M. Growth factor stimulation had no effect on the adhesion of mobilized CFCs but resulted in enhanced migration of these cells (9.8% +/- 1.6% and 12. 6% +/- 3.1% of GM-CFCs migrating across HUVECs and BMECs, respectively; P < .01, n = 6). Assessment of cell proliferation by the 3H-thymidine suicide method showed that, whereas 11.7% +/- 3.3% of proliferating CFCs transmigrated across endothelium, only 1.3% +/- 0.3% of nonproliferating CFCs did so (P < .05, n = 5). Transmigration of growth factor-activated CFCs was inhibited by anti-CD18 monoclonal antibody (MoAb; 50% +/- 18% inhibition) and by anti-platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1) MoAb (70.8% +/- 7.1% inhibition; P < .05, n = 3). IL-1 stimulation of HUVECs had no significant effect on CD34(+) cell transmigration, but caused marked enhancement of neutrophil migration. Stem cell homing may depend, in part, on the ability of local cytokines to upregulate the transmigratory ability of these cells. The transmigration of HPCs shares at least some molecular pathways with that of mature cells (CD18 and PECAM-1), but is differently affected by endothelial activation.

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