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PLOS ONE  2011 

Transformation of Human Mesenchymal Cells and Skin Fibroblasts into Hematopoietic Cells

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021250

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Patients with prolonged myelosuppression require frequent platelet and occasional granulocyte transfusions. Multi-donor transfusions induce alloimmunization, thereby increasing morbidity and mortality. Therefore, an autologous or HLA-matched allogeneic source of platelets and granulocytes is needed. To determine whether nonhematopoietic cells can be reprogrammed into hematopoietic cells, human mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) and skin fibroblasts were incubated with the demethylating agent 5-azacytidine (Aza) and the growth factors (GF) granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and stem cell factor. This treatment transformed MSCs to round, non-adherent cells expressing T-, B-, myeloid-, or stem/progenitor-cell markers. The transformed cells engrafted as hematopoietic cells in bone marrow of immunodeficient mice. DNA methylation and mRNA array analysis suggested that Aza and GF treatment demethylated and activated HOXB genes. Indeed, transfection of MSCs or skin fibroblasts with HOXB4, HOXB5, and HOXB2 genes transformed them into hematopoietic cells. Further studies are needed to determine whether transformed MSCs or skin fibroblasts are suitable for therapy.


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