Objective: Previously, we have found that human culture-expanded fetal lung-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) promote the engraftment of umbilical cord blood (UCB)-derived CD34((+)) cells. The high frequency of MSC in fetal lung allowed us to study whether this represented a biological feature of these cells or a property that was acquired during expansion in culture.
Materials and methods: Irradiated NOD/SCID mice (n=80) were transplanted with 0.1x10(6) UCB CD34(+) cells in the presence or absence of 10(6) primary nonexpanded or culture-expanded fetal lung, liver, or BM CD45(-) cells, or with nonexpanded fetal lung liver or BM CD45(-) cells only.
Results: In comparison with transplantation of UCB CD34(+) cells only, cotransplantation of UCB CD34(+) cells and primary fetal lung or BM CD45(-) cells resulted in a significantly higher level of engraftment (% hCD45(+) cells) in BM, PB, and spleen. In addition, primary mesenchymal cells derived from adult BM had a similar promoting effect. The engraftment-enhancing effect was similar to that of culture-expanded fetal lung and BM MSC. Primary mesenchymal cells, but not culture-expanded MSC, were detected in recipient mice, suggesting that the primary cells were able to home and that this capacity was lost after expansion.
Conclusions: These results show that primary mesenchymal cells from fetal lung and BM promote the engraftment of UCB-derived CD34(+) cells to a similar degree as culture-expanded MSC, indicating that it reflects a biological property of primary MSC that is preserved during expansion in culture.