Significant progress has been made in understanding the hematopoietic supportive capacity of both mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and osteogenic cells in maintaining hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) in vitro. However the role of HSPCs in regulating their bone marrow niche environment through influencing the function of neighboring cell populations to complete this reciprocal relationship is not well understood. In this study, we investigated the influence of HSPCs on the osteogenic differentiation of MSCs in vitro, using a highly enriched population of hematopoietic cells with the phenotype c-Kit(+)Sca-1(+)Lineage(-)(KSL) and bone marrow derived mesenchymal stromal cells in direct contact co-culture in medium with or without the addition of the osteogenic supplement dexamethasone. The data suggest that a low dose of HSPCs in co-culture with MSCs in combination with dexamethasone treatment accelerates the osteogenic progression of MSCs, as evidenced in the earlier peak in alkaline phosphatase activity and enhanced calcium deposition compared to cultures of MSCs alone. We observed a longer persistence of functional primitive hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in the population treated with dexamethasone, and this observation was positively correlated with enhanced osteogenic differentiation of MSCs. Therefore, our findings further support the concept that HSPCs are actively involved in regulating the development and maintenance of the stem cell niche environment in which they reside.
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