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The Fas receptor and its ligand have been implicated in mediating the bone marrow (BM) suppression observed in graft-versus-host disease and a number of other BM-failure syndromes. However, previous studies have suggested that Fas is probably not expressed on human hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), but up-regulated as a consequence of their commitment and differentiation, suggesting that progenitors or differentiated blood cells, rather than HSCs, are the targets of Fas-mediated suppression. The present studies confirm that candidate HSCs in human cord blood and BM lack constitutive expression of Fas, but demonstrate that Fas expression on CD34+ progenitor and stem cells is correlated to their cell cycle and activation status. With the use of recently developed in vitro conditions promoting HSC self-renewing divisions, Fas was up-regulated on virtually all HSCs capable of multilineage reconstituting nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficiency (NOD-SCID) mice in vivo, as well as on long-term culture-initiating cells (LTC-ICs). Similarly, in vivo cycling of NOD-SCID repopulating cells upon transplantation, resulted in up-regulation of Fas expression. However, repopulating HSCs expressing high levels of Fas remained highly resistant to Fas-mediated suppression, and HSC function was compromised only upon coactivation with tumor necrosis factor. Thus, reconstituting human HSCs up-regulate Fas expression upon active cycling, demonstrating that HSCs could be targets for Fas-mediated BM suppression.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





118 - 126


Animals, Bone Marrow Cells, Cell Cycle, Cell Division, Cord Blood Stem Cell Transplantation, Cytokines, Fetal Blood, Flow Cytometry, Hematopoietic Stem Cells, Humans, Mice, Mice, SCID, Multipotent Stem Cells, Transplantation, Heterologous, Up-Regulation, fas Receptor