Expression and Function of Homing-Essential Molecules and Enhanced In Vivo Homing Ability of Human Peripheral Blood-Derived Hematopoietic Progenitor Cells after Stimulation with Stem Cell Factor



Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) homing from blood to bone marrow is a multistep process involving rolling, extravasation, migration, and finally adhesion in the correct microenvironment. With view to the hematopoietic recovery after clinical stem cell transplantation, we investigated the effect of stem cell factor (SCF) on the expression and the adhesive function of the α4β1 and α5β1 integrins very-late antigen (VLA)-4 and VLA-5 on peripheral blood-derived hematopoietic progenitor cells. After SCF stimulation, the expression of VLA-4 and VLA-5 on CD34+/c-kit+ cells obtained from healthy donors increased from 54% to 90% and from 3% to 82%, respectively. For patient-derived cells, the increase was 67% to 90% and 12% to 46%. The proportion of mononuclear cells adhering to the fibronectin fragment CH296 increased by stimulation with SCF from 14% to 23%. Accordingly, functional studies showed an approximate 30% increase of adherent long-term culture-initiating cell. The improvement of the homing abilities of SCF-stimulated HSC was confirmed by transplantation into sublethally irradiated nonobese diabetic-scid/scid mice. Six weeks after the transplantation, in eight of eight animals receiving human HSC with the addition of SCF, a profound multilineage hematopoietic engraftment was detected, whereas in the control group receiving only HSC, none of eight animals engrafted. Our data provide the first in vivo evidence that stimulation with cytokines improves the homing ability of transplanted human hematopoietic progenitor cells.