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4046 FLT3-Ligand Alone Enables the Identification and Maintenance in Vitro of Viable Quiescent Human Fetal Liver Hematopoietic Stem Cells with Maintenance of Their Function

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 501. Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells and Hematopoiesis: Basic and Translational: Poster III
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Research, Fundamental Science, hematopoiesis, Biological Processes
Monday, December 11, 2023, 6:00 PM-8:00 PM

Margarita E Macaldaz, PhD1*, Keheng Wang2*, Jeremy Shu, B.Sc2*, Paul Miller, PhD1* and Connie J. Eaves, PhD, MSc, BSc1

1Terry Fox Laboratory, BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver, BC, Canada
2University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Cells with sustained multi-lineage blood cell regenerative potential are referred to as hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Current findings indicate that they are responsible for lifelong blood production, are first detected within the first month of development in humans and are largely created prior to birth after which they expand their numbers in response to physiological demands for normal or enhanced blood cell output requirements. Interestingly, a number of the intrinsically determined functional properties of HSCs also change after birth. These include an apparent decline in their self-renewal potential. Thus, for example, in humans as in mice, cells with long-term (>6 month) HSC regenerative properties present in the developing fetal liver (FL) are a source of HSCs that possess a much higher in vivo regenerative capability than those from older donor sources, such as adult bone marrow or even cord blood (CB). Accordingly, it has been of longstanding interest to better understand the molecular regulation of this high regenerative capacity prevalent in fetal HSCs for potential future therapeutic as well as scientific exploitation. Here, we describe the results of experiments designed to answer the hypothesis that human FL HSCs with human-relevant self-renewal properties can be isolated as a quiescent CD49f+ subset of the GPI80+CD90+CD38-CD45RA-CD34+CD45+ population following their incubation in standard serum-free culture medium supplemented with FLT3-ligand (FLT3-L) alone.

Initial experiments showed expression of the CD49f integrin on first trimester hFL cells selectively depleted cells able to produce colonies of granulocytes, macrophages or erythroid cells in standard 2-week methylcellulose cultures containing SCF, GM-CSF, IL6, IL3 and EPO. Conversely, expression of the CD49f integrin selectively enriched for cells with 12-week output capabilities in both growth factor (GF)-supplemented stromal co-cultures and in sublethally irradiated, transplanted immunodeficient NOD-Rag1-/-IL2Rγc-/- W41/41 (NRG-W) mice. Initial experiments designed to test the effect of multiple GF and small molecule additives on the maintenance over a 7-day period of this in vivo regenerative ability of the input FL HSC confirmed GPI80 expression to be a continuing positive selective phenotype. In addition, the result of transplant experiments showed that a 2-day incubation in FLT3-L alone maintained the 12-week serially transplantable activity of the HSCs (12-weeks/cycle) as fully equivalent to the unmanipulated input cells and significantly superior (P<0.05) to FLT3-L+IL3+SF (3GF) with or without addition of UM171, stemregenin, or eltrombopag. Interestingly, in vitro monitoring of GPI80+ cells showed FLT3-L alone maintained the survival of only 20% of the input GPI80+ cells compared to any of the 3GF-based conditions. In addition, the time to complete a first division and subsequent divisions of the input cells was delayed and prolonged, respectively, in the FLT3-L versus the 3GF conditions. Subsequent 7-day suspension cultures and 6-week GF-supplemented stromal co-cultures experiments have confirmed the existence of a G0 population within the HSC-enriched subset of human FL cells that best maintains their growth potential in FLT3-L alone.

Together, these results demonstrate CD49f expression to be a pervasive marker of human HSCs throughout development and reveal the importance of different GF conditions to support the maintenance of viability and retention of self-renewal capability of human fetal HSCs in contrast to those required to activate/support a rapid initiation of cell division. These findings set the stage for future development of strategies to exploit human FL cells therapeutically and may also be critical to designing conditions that will best support the ex vivo maintenance of HSCs at and after birth.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

*signifies non-member of ASH