Understanding the repopulating characteristics of human hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells is crucial for predicting their performance after transplant into patients receiving high-dose radiochemotherapy. We have previously reported that CD34+ cord blood (CB) cells can be expanded in vitro for several months in serum containing culture conditions. The use of combinations of recombinant early acting growth factors and the absence of stroma was essential in determining this phenomenon. However, the effect of these manipulations on in vivo repopulating hematopoietic cells is not known. Recently, a new approach has been developed to establish an in vivo model for human primitive hematopoietic precursors by transplanting human hematopoietic cells into sublethally irradiated nonobese diabetic severe combined immunodeficient (NOD/SCID) mice. We have examined here the expansion of cells, CD34+ and CD34+38- subpopulations, colony-forming cells (CFC), long-term culture initiating cells (LTC-IC) and the maintenance or the expansion of SCID-repopulating cells (SRC) during stroma-free suspension cultures of human CD34+ CB cells for up to 12 weeks. Groups of sublethally irradiated NOD/SCID mice were injected with either 35,000, 20,000, and 10,000 unmanipulated CD34+ CB cells, which were cryopreserved at the start of cultures, or the cryopreserved cells expanded from 35,000, 20,000, or 10,000 CD34+ cells for 4, 8, and 12 weeks in the presence of a combination of early acting recombinant growth factors (flt 3/flk2 ligand [FL] + megakaryocyte growth and development factor [MGDF] ± stem cell factor [SCF] ± interleukin-6 [IL-6]). Mice that had been injected with ≥20,000 fresh or cryopreserved uncultured CD34+ cells did not show any sign or showed little engraftment in a limited number of animals. Conversely, cells that had been generated by the same number of initial CD34+ CB cells in 4 to 10 weeks of expansion cultures engrafted the vast majority of NOD/SCID mice. The level of engraftment, well above that usually observed when the same numbers of uncultured cells were injected in the same recipients (even in the presence of irradiated CD34- cells) suggested that primitive hematopoietic cells were maintained for up to 10 weeks of cultures. In addition, dilution experiments suggest that SRC are expanded more than 70-fold after 9 to 10 weeks of expansion. These results support and extend our previous findings that CD34+ CB stem cells (identified as LTC-IC) could indeed be grown and expanded in vitro for an extremely long period of time. Such information may be essential to design efficient stem cell expansion procedures for clinical use.
|Number of pages||14|
|Publication status||Published - Jun 1 1999|
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