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Mobilization of hematopoietic stem cells: state of the art

Levesque, Jean-Pierrea,b; Winkler, Ingrid Ga

Current Opinion in Organ Transplantation: February 2008 - Volume 13 - Issue 1 - p 53–58
doi: 10.1097/MOT.0b013e3282f42473
Stem cell transplantation: Edited by Jon Odorico

Purpose of review Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) normally reside in the bone marrow but can be forced into the blood, a process termed mobilization used clinically to harvest large numbers of HSCs for transplantation. Currently the mobilizing agent of choice is granulocyte colony-stimulating factor; however, not all patients mobilize well. This article reviews recent advances in understanding the molecular mechanisms responsible for the retention of HSCs in the bone marrow, which are perturbed during HSC mobilization, and the clinical application of these findings.

Recent findings The interaction between the chemokine SDF-1/CXCL12 and its receptor CXCR4 is critical to retain HSCs within the bone marrow, leading to the discovery that small synthetic CXCR4 antagonists are potent mobilizing agents that synergize with granulocyte colony-stimulating factor. Separate research has shown that HSC numbers in the bone marrow can be boosted by increasing the number of osteoblasts that support HSCs.

Summary HSC mobilization induced by granulocyte colony-stimulating factor may be enhanced by directly targeting the chemotactic interaction between HSCs and bone marrow stroma with CXCR4 antagonists. When the primary problem is reduced, however, HSC numbers in the bone marrow, due to repeated chemotherapy/radiotherapy treatments, an alternative is to enhance HSC content by enhancing bone formation prior to mobilization.

aMater Medical Research Institute, South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

bUniversity of Queensland, School of Medicine, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Correspondence to Jean-Pierre Levesque, PhD, Associate Professor, Mater Medical Research Institute, Aubigny Place, Raymond Terrace, South Brisbane, Queensland 4101, Australia Tel: +61 7 3840 2562; fax: +61 7 3840 2550; e-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.