Hematopoietic stem cells under pressure

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and progenitors are tasked with maintaining hematopoietic homeostasis in the face of numerous insults and challenges, including infection, inflammation, and exsanguination. HSCs possess the remarkable ability to reconstitute the entire hematopoietic system of an organism whose own hematopoietic system has been ablated. This ability is exploited routinely in the clinic via HSC transplantation (HSCT). Here, we focus on the physiological and molecular bottlenecks overcome by HSCs during transplantation.

Recent findings

During transplantation, HSCs encounter a damaged bone marrow niche, characterized molecularly by increases in oxygen concentrations and an altered cytokine milieu. New mechanisms and pathways have been recently implicated during HSCT, including transplanted HSC-dependent secretion of conditioning molecules that facilitate engraftment and pathways that protect HSCs from perturbed organelle homeostasis.

Summary

Better understanding the molecular processes HSCs employ to withstand the stress of transplant will illuminate novel targets for further improving conditioning regimens and engraftment during HSCT.

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