Incubation of murine bone marrow cells in hypoxia ensures the maintenance of marrow-repopulating ability together with the expansion of committed progenitors


Persio Dello Sbarba Dipartimento di Patologia e Oncologia Sperimentali, Università di Firenze, viale G.B. Morgagni 50, I-50134 Firenze, Italy.


We developed previously a hypoxic culture system in which progenitors endowed with marrow-repopulating ability (MRA), unlike committed progenitors, were selected and maintained better than in air. We report here an improvement to this system targeted at combining the maintenance of progenitors sustaining MRA with the numerical expansion of multipotent and committed progenitors. Murine bone marrow cells were incubated at 1% oxygen in liquid medium supplemented with stem cell factor, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, interleukin-6 and interleukin-3. In day 8 hypoxic cultures, the numbers of high proliferative potential and granulocyte/macrophage colony-forming cells (HPP-CFC and CFU-GM) were increased with respect to time zero. Colonies generated by HPP-CFC derived from hypoxic cultures exhibited a high replating ability, whereas colonies generated by HPP-CFC derived from control cultures exhibited a low replating ability. MRA was fully maintained in hypoxia and markedly reduced in air. Thus, severe hypoxia is able to ensure a full maintenance of progenitors sustaining MRA, together with a significant expansion of in vitro-detectable clonogenic progenitors, including those endowed with replating ability. This system could contribute to the improvement of current techniques for the in vitro treatment of human haematopoietic cell populations before transplantation.