A detailed understanding of how bone marrow stem cell progenitors are affected by heat is prerequisite to predicting how whole-body or regional hyperthermia protocols may affect bone marrow function. This investigation reports the reproductive integrity of murine tibial bone marrow granulocyte-macrophage colony-forming units (CFU-GM) after in situ hyperthermia. Heat was applied by water bath immersion of the leg of male BALB/c mice anesthetized with 90 mg/kg pentobarbital given subcutaneously. Tibial and rectal temperatures were monitored in representative animals by microthermocouples (tip diameter approximately 100 μm). By approximately 3 min after immersion of the limb, marrow temperature was within 0.3°C of water bath temperature (O'Hara et al., Int. J. Hyperthermia 5, 589-601, 1989) and was within 0.1°C by 5 min after immersion. The CFU-GM were cultured in "lung-conditioned" McCoy's 5A medium supplemented with 15% fetal calf serum and 0.3% Bacto agar. In situ heating of tibial marrow to exposure temperatures of 42, 42.5, 43, 44, and 45°C gave D0's (±95% CI) of 91 ± 44, 44 ± 27, 27 ± 2.2, 16 ± 6, and 7 ± 4 min, respectively. Heating to 41.5°C for up to 180 min did not result in cytotoxicity. Development of thermotolerance after approximately 100 min of heating was apparent by the presence of a "resistant tail" of the 42°C survival curve. A plot of D0 vs water bath temperature was bimodal with an inflection point at approximately 42.5°C. The inactivation enthalpy for temperatures above 42.5°C was 586 kJ/mol (140 kcal/mol) and for temperatures below 42.5°C was estimated to be 1205 kJ/mol (288 kcal/mol). These results show that CFU-GM can be heated predictably in situ, can be inactivated with thermal exposures as low as 42°C, and are capable of developing thermotolerance. These findings underscore the necessity to understand stem cell inactivation by hyperthermia in situ prior to widespread implementation of clinical hyperthermia protocols where bone marrow may be included in the treatment field.

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