Vascular endothelial cells produce soluble factors that mediate the recovery of human hematopoietic stem cells after radiation injury

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2006 May;12(5):530-40. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2005.12.039.


The risk of terrorism with nuclear or radiologic weapons is considered to be high over the coming decade. Ionizing radiation can cause a spectrum of hematologic toxicities, from mild myelosuppression to myeloablation and death. However, the potential regenerative capacity of human hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) after radiation injury has not been well characterized. In this study, we sought to characterize the effects of ionizing radiation on human HSCs and to determine whether signals from vascular endothelial cells could promote the repair of irradiated HSCs. Exposure of human bone marrow CD34+ cells to 400 cGy caused a precipitous decline in hematopoietic progenitor cell content and primitive cells capable of repopulating nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficient mice (SCID-repopulating cells), which was not retrievable via treatment with cytokines. Conversely, culture of 400 cGy-irradiated bone marrow CD34+ cells with endothelial cells under noncontact conditions supported the differential recovery of both viable progenitor cells and primitive SCID-repopulating cells. These data illustrate that vascular endothelial cells produce soluble factors that promote the repair and functional recovery of HSCs after radiation injury and suggest that novel factors with radiotherapeutic potential can be identified within this milieu.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology
  • Bone Marrow Cells / radiation effects
  • Cells, Cultured / cytology
  • Cells, Cultured / radiation effects
  • Cells, Cultured / transplantation
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Colony-Forming Units Assay
  • Cytokines / pharmacology
  • Cytokines / therapeutic use
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology*
  • Fetal Blood / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, SCID
  • Radiation Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Transplantation, Heterologous


  • Cytokines