Distinct requirements for optimal growth and In vitro expansion of human CD34(+)CD38(-) bone marrow long-term culture-initiating cells (LTC-IC), extended LTC-IC, and murine in vivo long-term reconstituting stem cells
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Recently, primitive human bone marrow (BM) progenitors supporting hematopoiesis in extended (>60 days) long-term BM cultures were identified. Such extended long-term culture-initiating cells (ELTC-IC) are of the CD34(+)CD38(-) phenotype, are quiescent, and are difficult to recruit into proliferation, implicating ELTC-IC as the most primitive human progenitor cells detectable in vitro. However, it remains to be established whether ELTC-IC can proliferate and potentially expand in response to early acting cytokines. Here, CD34(+)CD38(-) BM ELTC-IC (12-week) were efficiently recruited into proliferation and expanded in vitro in response to early acting cytokines, but conditions for expansion of ELTC-IC activity were distinct from those of traditional (5-week) LTC-IC and murine long-term repopulating cells. Whereas c-kit ligand (KL), interleukin-3 (IL-3), and IL-6 promoted proliferation and maintenance or expansion of murine long-term reconstituting activity and human LTC-IC, they dramatically depleted ELTC-IC activity. In contrast, KL, flt3 ligand (FL), and megakaryocyte growth and development factor (MGDF) (and KL + FL + IL-3) expanded murine long-term reconstituting activity as well as human LTC-IC and ELTC-IC. Expansion of LTC-IC was most optimal after 7 days of culture, whereas optimal expansion of ELTC-IC activity required 12 days, most likely reflecting the delayed recruitment of quiescent CD34(+)CD38(-) progenitors. The need for high concentrations of KL, FL, and MGDF (250 ng/mL each) and serum-free conditions was more critical for expansion of ELTC-IC than of LTC-IC. The distinct requirements for expansion of ELTC-IC activity when compared with traditional LTC-IC suggest that the ELTC-IC could prove more reliable as a predictor for true human stem cell activity after in vitro stem cell manipulation.