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Leukemia. 1998 Jun;12(6):942-50.

CD34+, kit+, rhodamine123(low) phenotype identifies a marrow cell population highly enriched for human hematopoietic stem cells.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104, USA.


We hypothesized that human hematopoietic cells displaying a CD34+, kit-, rhodamine123(low) phenotype would be highly enriched for cells with stem-like properties. To test this hypothesis, we employed fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) to isolate cells with this phenotype from normal light density marrow mononuclear cells (MNC). CD34+, kit+, rhodamine123(low) cells comprised from 0.05-0.01% of the total MNC population. They were small, had scant cytoplasm, and contained nuclei with dense, hyperchromatic chromatin and inconspicuous nucleoli. Additional immunophenotyping revealed that these cells were CD33-, CD38-, CD20-, and glycophorin A-. When plated in semisolid cultures containing optimal concentrations of IL-3, GM-CSF, KL, EPO, IL-6, and IL-1 these cells did not form colonies. However, when cultured over irradiated stromal cells, cobblestone areas were observed to form after 3 weeks, and harvested cells were able to initiate long-term cultures. To further demonstrate that these cells were indeed stem like, we also tested their ability to engraft and mature in immunocompromised (SCID) mice. Irradiated (400 cGy) SCID mice were transplanted with 2 x 10(3) candidate stem cells which were then injected with recombinant human growth factors every other day. Two months post-transplant the animals were sacrificed. PCR and FACS analysis of marrow and spleen cell samples revealed the presence of cells expressing human CD45 consistent with engraftment of human stem cells and the establishment of murine-human chimerism. Moreover, MNC isolated from transplanted mice formed unambiguously human BFU-E, CFU-GM and B cell colonies when stimulated with the appropriate growth factors. Accordingly, we have identified a relatively rapid and simple mechanism for isolating primitive human hematopoietic cells with stem cell-like properties. We anticipate that this strategy will be useful for experimental and therapeutic applications that require human stem cells in quantity.

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