Previous studies have demonstrated that bone marrow (BM)-derived cells differentiate into nonhematopoietic cells of multiple tissues. To date, it remains unknown which population(s) of BM cells are primarily responsible for this engraftment. To test the hypothesis that nonhematopoietic stem cells in the BM are the primary source of marrow-derived lung epithelial cells, either wild-type hematopoietic or nonhematopoietic BM cells were transplanted into irradiated surfactant-protein-C (SPC)-null mice. Donor-derived, SPC-positive type 2 pneumocytes were predominantly detected in the lungs of mice receiving purified nonhematopoietic cells and were absent from mice receiving purified hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. We conclude that cells contained in the nonhematopoietic fraction of the BM are the primary source of marrow-derived lung epithelial cells. These nonhematopoietic cells may represent a primitive stem cell population residing in adult BM.
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