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UCLA scientists prove endothelial cells give rise to blood stem cells
Date:12/3/2008

and platelets. If blood stem cells can be gown outside the body from endothelial cells and only self-renew, or make more of their own kind, researchers may one day be able to reprogram blood vessel cells to produce blood stem cells to replace the bone marrow in transplants or the mutated blood cells that result in diseases like leukemia.

"We found that endothelial cells are capable of making blood stem cells within embryonic areas that prevent differentiation into other lineages," Zovein said. "In trying to understand how blood stem cells arise from the endothelium, we may learn enough to be able to grow pure, designer blood stem cells outside the human body."

For example, researchers may some day be able to take a blood vessel from a patient and grow blood stem cells specific to that patient, which could be used for bone marrow transplantation. Since the blood stem cells originated from the patient, there would be no need to find a matching donor to provide the marrow. The cells also could be used to replace diseased cells that result in cancer, providing a new way to treat malignancies such as leukemia.

The creation of blood stem cells by endothelial cells occurs at a specific time in embryonic development and researchers want to know what takes place biologically during that period, what specific cell signaling pathways are sending the messages to make blood stem cells. Iruela-Arispe and her team hope to mimic the embryonic environment in the lab to create blood cells that don't differentiate.

"Next we need to understand what signaling mechanisms are at work that allow endothelial cells to make blood stem cells," Iruela-Arispe said. "We need to find out how we can program the endothelial cells to make blood stem cells, what's important in the embryonic blood vessel wall that allows for this phenomenon and whether we can reprogram adult blood vessels to do the same thing."

While this study was done in mouse models
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Contact: Kim Irwin
kirwin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-2805
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert  

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