Leukaemia Inhibitory Factor Is Necessary for Maintenance of Haematopoietic Stem Cells and Thymocyte Stimulation

Nature. 1993 May 27;363(6427):361-4. doi: 10.1038/363361a0.


Leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF) has a variety of effects on different cell types in vitro, inhibiting the differentiation of embryonic stem cells and promoting the survival and/or proliferation of primitive haematopoietic precursors and primordial germ cells. Here we show that LIF-deficient mice derived by gene targeting techniques have dramatically decreased numbers of stem cells in spleen and bone marrow. Injection of spleen and marrow cells from these mice promotes long-term survival of lethally irradiated wild-type animals, however, showing that the LIF- stem cells remain pluripotent. The numbers of committed progenitors are also reduced in the spleen but not the bone marrow, suggesting that stem cells interact differently with the splenic and medullary microenvironment. Heterozygous animals are intermediate in phenotype, implying that LIF has a dosage effect, and defects in stem cell number can be compensated by exogenous LIF. LIF thus appears to be required for the survival of the normal pool of stem cells, but not their terminal differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Base Sequence
  • Bone Marrow Cells
  • Cell Count
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • Female
  • Growth Inhibitors / deficiency
  • Growth Inhibitors / genetics
  • Growth Inhibitors / physiology*
  • Hematopoiesis / genetics
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Interleukin-6*
  • Leukemia Inhibitory Factor
  • Lymphokines / deficiency
  • Lymphokines / genetics
  • Lymphokines / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Spleen / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • Growth Inhibitors
  • Interleukin-6
  • Leukemia Inhibitory Factor
  • Lif protein, mouse
  • Lymphokines