Awakening dormant haematopoietic stem cells

Nat Rev Immunol. 2010 Mar;10(3):201-9. doi: 10.1038/nri2726.


Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in mouse bone marrow are located in specialized niches as single cells. During homeostasis, signals from this environment keep some HSCs dormant, which preserves long-term self-renewal potential, while other HSCs actively self renew to maintain haematopoiesis. In response to haematopoietic stress, dormant HSCs become activated and rapidly replenish the haematopoietic system. Interestingly, three factors - granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, interferon-alpha and arsenic trioxide - have been shown to efficiently activate dormant stem cells and thereby could break their resistance to anti-proliferative chemotherapeutics. Thus, we propose that two-step strategies could target resistant leukaemic stem cells by priming tumours with activators of dormancy followed by chemotherapy or targeted therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arsenic Trioxide
  • Arsenicals / immunology
  • Arsenicals / pharmacology*
  • Bone Marrow / drug effects
  • Bone Marrow / immunology*
  • Cell Growth Processes / drug effects
  • Cell Growth Processes / immunology
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / immunology
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / pharmacology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / immunology
  • Interferon-alpha / pharmacology*
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Oxides / immunology
  • Oxides / pharmacology*
  • Stem Cell Niche / immunology


  • Arsenicals
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Oxides
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Arsenic Trioxide