Bone and the Hematopoietic and Immune Systems: A Report of the Proceedings of a Scientific Workshop

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Recent observations underscore the linkage between endochondral bone formation and the establishment of hematopoietic marrow and suggest that interactions among bone, marrow, and the immune system persist in the mature skeleton. A workshop was held at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, to discuss recent work on these interactions and to identify new areas of research. Marrow stromal cells include the precursors of the osteochondrogenic lineage, exert important influences on osteoclastogenesis and lymphopoiesis, and mediate the effects of some systemic factors on bone turnover. Recent evidence indicates that hematopoietic cells can influence the differentiation of osteogenic cells and suggests that mature lymphocytes can influence osteoclastic and osteoblastic functions. However, interpretation of experiments may be confounded by the potential for stage-specific responses within a cell lineage, the likelihood that divergent pathways compete for limited pools of precursor cells, and the possibility that important cells or factors are still unidentified. Further, in vitro models may be limited by species and anatomical site specificities, the absence of intermediary or accessory cells, and the absence of normal marrow spatial organization and cellular interactions with the extracellular matrix. Nevertheless, current approaches hold the potential for significant advances in our understanding of the relationships between bone and the hematopoietic and immune systems. Refinements of in vitro systems, the use of genetically manipulated mice, and the examination of clinical syndromes promise important insights. Collaborations among bone biologists, hematologists, and immunologists, and between basic scientists and clinical investigators, will be crucial for continued progress.

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