Objective: Bone marrow sinusoids remain predominantly host-derived following bone marrow transplantation. Systematic analysis was conducted at the cellular level to investigate how the host sinusoidal structures survived after lethal irradiation.
Materials and methods: Apoptosis and cell proliferation assays were performed on bone marrow sections at various time points during the first 2 weeks postirradiation to study the extent of damage to sinusoidal endothelial cells from lethal irradiation and to determine whether cell proliferation contributes to the recovery of the sinusoidal system.
Results: Phosphorylated H2AX was present in both hematopoietic and sinusoidal endothelial cells 3 hours after irradiation demonstrating DNA damage. Three days after irradiation, some sinusoidal endothelial cells became terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling -positive, but were caspase-3 and in situ oligo ligation -negative, suggesting nonapoptotic DNA fragmentation. Clusters of sinusoidal endothelial cells that expressed Ki67 appeared 3 days after irradiation, and increased through day 7. These Ki67-positive endothelial cells were host-derived. Bromodeoxyuridine-positive endothelial cells were present in the Ki67-positive areas confirming endothelial cell replication. Twenty percent of the sinusoidal endothelial cells were lost by day 3 after irradiation. The total number of endothelial cells remained relatively unchanged between day 3 and day 14. These results demonstrate that lethal irradiation resulted in limited, nonapoptotic sinusoidal endothelial cell loss, followed by proliferation of preexisting host-derived mature sinusoidal endothelial cells. Our data suggest that DNA repair mechanisms and proliferation of host endothelial cells within the sinusoids are involved in maintenance of the structural integrity of the bone marrow vascular niche following lethal irradiation.