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Studies of the role of mesenchymal cells in the regulation of hemopoiesis Gaboury, Louis A.


Hemopoiesis is thought to be regulated in part by specific, but as yet undefined, interactions between primitive hemopoietic cells and fixed, non-hemopoietic marrow elements collectively referred to as the stroma. Recently, a marrow culture system has been described that allows the maintenance of primitive human hemopoietic progenitor cells for many weeks in the absence of exogenously added hemopoietic growth factors. The formation of a heterogeneous adherent layer in which many stromal elements are found appears to be important to the maintenance of hemopoiesis in this system. As part of the overall goal of delineating the cellular and molecular interactions involved, my first objective was to develop an experimental system for assessing the hemopoiesis-sustaining function of the adherent layer of long-term human marrow cultures. This required the identification of a suitable procedure for separating the hemopoietic and non-hemopoietic regulatory components so that the former could be used to quantitate the function of the latter. This was achieved using irradiation to selectively inactivate residual hemopoietic cells in long-term culture adherent layers, and using a medium containing cis-4-hydroxy-L-proline to selectively inactivate stromal cells and their precursors present in suspensions of unseparated human marrow which were then added back in co-culture experiments. My second objective was to develop a strategy for obtaining purified populations of cells corresponding to the various mesenchymal cell types in long-term adherent layers. I therefore prepared a high titre SV-40 virus stock and used it to establish permanent, cloned lines from human marrow "fibroblast" colonies, long-term culture adherent layers, and umbilical cord endothelial cells. Characterization of the transformants generated showed that they were all positive for SV-40, and in general expressed the phenotypic characteristics of the cells originally infected. Functional studies showed that these transformants, like their normal counterparts, respond to activation by producing two types of hemopoietic growth factors. These studies suggest that marrow mesenchymal cells may regulate the growth and maintenance of primitive hemopoietic cells by producing hemopoietic growth factors in response to appropriate perturbation. The availability of permanent cloned lines of human marrow stromal cells should facilitate future analysis of these events at the molecular level.

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