Production of Life-Long Blood Depends on Many Cells that Form Before Birth

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital researchers have discovered that production of life-long blood depends on more “ancestor” cells than earlier reported. Published in the journal Nature Cell Biology, the study focused on the origins of blood-forming cells before birth.
Hematopoietic or blood-forming stem cells are responsible for the production of life-long blood. The cells can make any blood cells. Therapeutically, hematopoietic stem cells are used to restore immunity and blood production in patients undergoing bone marrow transplantation for cancer treatment. Understanding how the blood system develops throughout prenatal growth provides insight into the roots of blood diseases that occur early in life.
In the study, St. Jude scientists used a mathematical modeling and color-coded cell labeling system to show blood-forming stem cells in mice arise from roughly 500 precursor cells rather than a few cells. While developments of blood system are the same in humans and mice, the precursor cells in mice are likely at least ten times fewer.
All previous studies had reported that only a few precursor cells take part in determining the blood system. However, the current study has shown that many cells are involved. The findings are expected to help the researchers unravel the origins of disease and find cells that are susceptible to disease-causing mutations.


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