Stem cell factor (c-kit ligand) enhances the interleukin-9-dependent proliferation of human CD34+ and CD34+CD33-DR- cells

R. M. Lemoli, A. Fortuna, M. Fogli, M. R. Motta, S. Rizzi, C. Benini, S. Tura

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We have studied the effects of recombinant human interleukin-9 (IL-9), alone and combined with stem cell factor (SCF, c-kit ligand), IL-3, and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) on the clonogenic proliferation of highly enriched human hematopoietic CD34+ and CD34+CD33-DR- progenitor cells. Colony assays were performed under serum-containing and serum-free conditions. IL-9, as a single agent, did not support colony formation. The addition of erythropoietin (Epo) to IL-9 induced the growth of erythroid progenitors (BFU-E) derived from both CD34+ and CD34+CD33-DR- cells. The IL-9-dependent growth of BFU-E derived from CD34+ cells was increased in an additive manner by SCF and, to a lesser extent, by IL-3, whereas CD34+CD33-DR- erythroid precursors were also responsive to GM-CSF in combination with IL-9. The addition of SCF to IL-9 did stimulate the development of CD34+ and CD34+CD33-DR- macroscopic, multicentered BFU-E and multilineage colonies (CFU-GEMM). When lL-9 was used in serum-free conditions, the growth of CD34+ and CD34+CD33-DR-. BFU-E was observed in the presence of Epo. Moreover, a marked synergy on BFU-E colony formation was evident when IL-9 was combined with SCF, and their activity was enhanced by the addition of IL-3. IL-9 showed a negligible proliferative activity on colony-forming units-granulocyte/macrophage (CFU-GM). However, it increased the number of CD34+CD33-DR- CFU-GM responsive to IL-3 (37% of the colonies generated by phytohemagglutinin-stimulated lymphocyte conditioned medium [PHA-LCM]). The effects of IL-9 on CD34+CD33-DR- cells were also studied in a short-term suspension culture system, which evaluates the proliferation of progenitors earlier than day 14 CFU-C (Delta assay). In this system, IL-9 had a minimal activity on its own. In combination with SCF, however, it induced a nine-fold expansion of CD34+CD33-DR- cells, which generated a greater number of CFU-GM than BFU-E in secondary methylcellulose cultures. These experiments indicate that IL-9 induces the proliferation of very primitive human erythroid cells, and this effect is potentiated by SCF and other cytokines. Furthermore, IL-9 synergizes in vitro with the c-kit ligand in expanding the pool of early pluripotent hematopoietic progenitor cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)919-923
Number of pages5
JournalExperimental Hematology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • Cytokines
  • Hematopoietic cells
  • IL-9
  • Proliferation
  • Synergism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics
  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Transplantation


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