Differences in sulfation patterns of heparan sulfate derived from human bone marrow and umbilical vein endothelial cells

Exp Hematol. 2001 Jul;29(7):884-93. doi: 10.1016/s0301-472x(01)00653-1.


Objective: Heparan sulfates (HS), the polysaccharide side chains of HS proteoglycans, differ in structure and composition of sulfated domains among various tissue types, resulting in selective protein binding. HS proteoglycans on bone marrow endothelial cells (BMEC) could contribute to tissue specificity of the bone marrow endothelium and play a role in the presentation of chemokines such as stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) and adhesion of hematopoietic progenitor cells after stem cell transplantations. We characterized differences in HS structure and SDF-1 binding between BMEC and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC).

Materials and methods: Expression of HS proteoglycans on human bone marrow microvessels was investigated by immunohistochemical staining. Comparison of three human BMEC cell lines with HUVEC and an HUVEC cell line was studied by flow cytometry using antibodies against different epitopes of the HS polysaccharide chain. HS proteoglycans were biochemically characterized after isolation from metabolically labeled cultures of the BMEC cell line 4LHBMEC and HUVEC. Binding of radiolabeled SDF-1 to 4LHBMEC and HUVEC and competition with heparins were investigated.

Results: Bone marrow microvessels constitutively expressed HS proteoglycans. Flow cytometric experiments showed differences in HS chain composition between BMEC and HUVEC. Biochemical characterization revealed more O-sulfation of the N-sulfated domains present in cell-associated HS glycosaminoglycans in 4LHBMEC compared to HUVEC. Binding experiments showed that 4LHBMEC bound more 125[I]-SDF-1 per cell than HUVEC. This could be inhibited largely by heparin and O-sulfated heparin and to a lesser extent by N-sulfated heparin.

Conclusions: Cellular HS from BMEC differs in composition from HUVEC. We postulate that the presence of highly sulfated domains in the HS chains from BMEC contributes to tissue specificity of bone marrow endothelium in which HS may be involved in SDF-1 presentation and adhesion of hematopoietic progenitor cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Bone Marrow / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Heparitin Sulfate / analysis*
  • Heparitin Sulfate / chemistry
  • Heparitin Sulfate / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Organ Specificity
  • Veins / metabolism


  • Heparitin Sulfate