Neurological Regulation of the Bone Marrow Niche

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020;1212:127-153. doi: 10.1007/5584_2019_398.


The bone marrow (BM) hematopoietic niche is the microenvironment where in the adult hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) are maintained and regulated. This regulation is tightly controlled through direct cell-cell interactions with mesenchymal stromal stem (MSCs) and reticular cells, adipocytes, osteoblasts and endothelial cells, through binding to extracellular matrix molecules and through signaling by cytokines and hematopoietic growth factors. These interactions provide a healthy environment and secure the maintenance of the HSPC pool, their proliferation, differentiation and migration. Recent studies have shown that innervation of the BM and interactions with the peripheral sympathetic neural system are important for maintenance of the hematopoietic niche, through direct interactions with HSCPs or via interactions with other cells of the HSPC microenvironment. Signaling through adrenergic receptors (ARs), opioid receptors (ORs), endocannabinoid receptors (CRs) on HSPCs and MSCs has been shown to play an important role in HSPC homeostasis and mobilization. In addition, a wide range of neuropeptides and neurotransmitters, such as Neuropeptide Y (NPY), Substance P (SP) and Tachykinins, as well as neurotrophins and neuropoietic growth factors have been shown to be involved in regulation of the hematopoietic niche. Here, a comprehensive overview is given of their role and interactions with important cells in the hematopoietic niche, including HSPCs and MSCs, and their effect on HSPC maintenance, regulation and mobilization.

Keywords: Bone Marrow Niche; Endocannabinoids; Hematopoiesis; Neuropeptides; Opioids; Tachykinins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Stem Cell Niche / physiology*


  • Neuropeptides
  • Neurotransmitter Agents