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Although long-term repopulating hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) can self-renew and expand extensively in vivo, most efforts at expanding HSC in vitro have proved unsuccessful and have frequently resulted in compromised rather than improved HSC grafts. This has triggered the search for the optimal combination of cytokines for HSC expansion. Through such studies, c-kit ligand (KL), flt3 ligand (FL), thrombopoietin, and IL-11 have emerged as likely positive regulators of HSC self-renewal. In contrast, numerous studies have implicated a unique and potent negative regulatory role of IL-3, suggesting perhaps distinct regulation of HSC fate by different cytokines. However, the interpretations of these findings are complicated by the fact that different cytokines might target distinct subpopulations within the HSC compartment and by the lack of evidence for HSC undergoing self-renewal. Here, in the presence of KL+FL+megakaryocyte growth and development factor (MGDF), which recruits virtually all Lin(-)Sca-1(+)kit(+) bone marrow cells into proliferation and promotes their self-renewal under serum-free conditions, IL-3 and IL-11 revealed an indistinguishable ability to further enhance proliferation. Surprisingly, and similar to IL-11, IL-3 supported KL+FL+MGDF-induced expansion of multilineage, long-term reconstituting activity in primary and secondary recipients. Furthermore, high-resolution cell division tracking demonstrated that all HSC underwent a minimum of 5 cell divisions, suggesting that long-term repopulating HSC are not compromised by IL-3 stimulation after multiple cell divisions. In striking contrast, the ex vivo expansion of murine HSC in fetal calf serum-containing medium resulted in extensive loss of reconstituting activity, an effect further facilitated by the presence of IL-3. (Blood. 2000;96:1748-1755)


Journal article



Publication Date





1748 - 1755


Animals, Antigens, CD34, Antigens, Ly, Cell Division, Cell Lineage, Cells, Cultured, Flow Cytometry, Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation, Hematopoietic Stem Cells, Humans, Interleukin-11, Interleukin-3, Membrane Proteins, Mice, Mice, Congenic, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Inbred Strains, Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit, Recombinant Proteins, Stem Cell Factor, Thrombopoietin, Time Factors