Megakaryocytopoiesis and thrombocytopoiesis result from the interactions between hematopoietic progenitor cells, humoral factors, and marrow stromal cells derived from mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) or MSCs directly. MSCs are self-renewing marrow cells that provide progenitors for osteoblasts, adipocytes, chondrocytes, myocytes, and marrow stromal cells. MSCs are isolated from bone marrow aspirates and are expanded in adherent cell culture using an optimized media preparation. Culture-expanded human MSCs (hMSCs) express a variety of hematopoietic cytokines and growth factors and maintain long-term culture-initiating cells in long-term marrow culture with CD34(+) hematopoietic progenitor cells. Two lines of evidence suggest that hMSCs function in megakaryocyte development. First, hMSCs express messenger RNA for thrombopoietin, a primary regulator for megakaryocytopoiesis and thrombocytopoiesis. Second, adherent hMSC colonies in primary culture are often associated with hematopoietic cell clusters containing CD41(+) megakaryocytes. The physical association between hMSCs and megakaryocytes in marrow was confirmed by experiments in which hMSCs were copurified by immunoselection using an anti-CD41 antibody. To determine whether hMSCs can support megakaryocyte and platelet formation in vitro, we established a coculture system of hMSCs and CD34(+) cells in serum-free media without exogenous cytokines. These cocultures produced clusters of hematopoietic cells atop adherent MSCs. After 7 days, CD41(+) megakaryocyte clusters and pro-platelet networks were observed with pro-platelets increasing in the next 2 weeks. CD41(+) platelets were found in culture medium and expressed CD62P after thrombin treatment. These results suggest that MSCs residing within the megakaryocytic microenvironment in bone marrow provide key signals to stimulate megakaryocyte and platelet production from CD34(+) hematopoietic cells.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.