Evidence from a leukaemia model for maintenance of vascular endothelium by bone-marrow-derived endothelial cells

Lancet. 2000 May 13;355(9216):1688-91. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(00)02241-8.


Background: Vascular endothelial cells lost from the blood-vessel endothelium through necrosis or apoptosis must be replaced. We investigated in a leukaemia model whether bone-marrow-derived endothelial cells contribute to this maintenance angiogenesis.

Methods: We studied six patients with chronic myelogenous leukaemia (CML) carrying the BCR/ABL fusion gene in their bone-marrow-derived cells. We screened endothelial cells generated in vitro from bone-marrow-derived progenitor cells and vascular endothelium in myocardial tissue for the BCR/ABL fusion gene by in-situ hybridisation. For detection of donor-type endothelial cells after transplantation of haemopoietic stem cells, recipient tissue was stained with monoclonal antibodies against donor-type HLA antigens.

Findings: We identified the BCR/ABL fusion gene in variable proportions (0-56%) of endothelial cells generated in vitro. Endothelial cells expressing the fusion gene were found in the vascular endothelium of a patient. In a recipient of an allogeneic stem-cell transplant, normal donor-type endothelial cells were detected in the vascular endothelium.

Interpretation: These findings suggest that CML is not solely a haematological disease but originates from a bone-marrow-derived haemangioblastic precursor cell that can give rise to both blood cells and endothelial cells. Moreover, normal bone-marrow-derived endothelial cells can contribute to the maintenance of the blood vascular endothelium. The integration of bone-marrow-derived endothelial cells into the vascular endothelium provides a rationale for developing vascular targeting strategies in vasculopathies, inflammatory diseases, and cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bone Marrow / pathology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology*
  • Erythroid Precursor Cells / pathology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology