Social Stress Mobilizes Hematopoietic Stem Cells to Establish Persistent Splenic Myelopoiesis

Cell Rep. 2018 Nov 27;25(9):2552-2562.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.10.102.


Psychosocial stress accelerates myelopoietic production of monocytes and neutrophils that contributes to a variety of health complications ranging from atherosclerosis to anxiety. Here, we show that social stress in mice mobilizes hematopoietic stem progenitor cells (HSPCs) from the bone marrow that enter circulation, engraft into the spleen, and establish a persistent extramedullary hematopoietic depot. These splenic progenitors actively proliferate and differentiate into multiple cell types, including monocytes, neutrophils, and erythrocytes. Splenic erythropoiesis partially abrogates stress-induced anemia. Repeated injection with isoprenaline induces progenitor mobilization to the spleen, identifying a key role for β-adrenergic signaling. Moreover, protracted splenic production of CD11b+ cells persists for at least 24 days after the cessation of social stress. Thus, chronic stress establishes a persistent extramedullary hematopoietic depot that can modify a wide range of chronic disease processes and alter homeostasis of the bi-directional regulatory axis between the nervous and immune systems.

Keywords: extramedullary hematopoiesis; hematopoiesis; hematopoietic stem cells; myelopoiesis; spleen; stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / pathology
  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Self Renewal
  • Erythropoiesis
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Lymphopoiesis
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Myelopoiesis*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Spleen / physiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / pathology*


  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta