Collis, S. J., Neutzel, S., Thompson, T. L., Swartz, M. J., Dillehay, L. E., Collector, M. I., Sharkis, S. J. and DeWeese, T. L. Hematopoietic Progenitor Stem Cell Homing in Mice Lethally Irradiated with Ionizing Radiation at Differing Dose Rates. Radiat. Res. 162, 48–55 (2004).

It has recently been shown that specific lineage-depleted murine hematopoietic stem cells that home to the bone marrow 2 days after transplantation of ablated primary recipients are capable of long-term engraftment and repopulation of secondary recipients. We were interested in determining whether the rate at which the ablating radiation dose was delivered to the mice affected the homing of lineage-depleted stem cells to the bone marrow and/or sites of tissue damage. Fractionated, lineage-depleted donor marrow cells were isolated and labeled with the membrane dye PKH26. Recipient mice were lethally irradiated with 11 Gy ionizing radiation using varying dose rates and were immediately injected with PKH26-labeled progenitor stem cells. With the exception of the lowest dose-rate group, all irradiated mice had an approximately fivefold (P = 0.014 to 0.025) reduction in stem cell homing to the bone marrow compared to unirradiated control animals. A fivefold reduction of stem cell homing to the spleen compared to unirradiated animals was also observed, though this was not statistically significant for any dose-rate group (P = 0.072 to 0.233). This difference in homing could not be explained by increased stem cell apoptosis/necrosis or non-marrow tissue homing to the intestine, lung or liver. We show that the dose rate at which a lethal dose of total-body radiation is delivered does not augment hematopoietic progenitor stem cell homing to the bone marrow, spleen or sites of early radiation-mediated tissue damage at either 2 or 5 days postirradiation/transplantation. The observation that greater homing was seen in unirradiated control mice calls into question the concept that adequate bone marrow stem cell homing requires radiation-induced “space” to be made in the marrow, certainly for the enriched early progenitor hematopoietic stem cells used for this set of experiments. Further experiments will be needed to determine whether these homed cells are as capable of giving rise to long-term engraftment/repopulation of the marrow of secondary recipients as they are in irradiated recipients.

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