Specialized Bone Marrow Endothelium Defines Microdomains for Tumor and Stem Cell Engraftment.
The organization of cellular niches has been shown to play a key role in regulating normal stem cell differentiation and regeneration, yet relatively little is known about the architecture of microenvironments that support malignant proliferation. Using dynamic in vivo confocal and multi-photon imaging, we show that the bone marrow contains unique anatomic regions defined by specialized endothelium. This vasculature expresses the adhesion molecule E-selectin and the chemoattractant SDF-1 in discrete, discontinuous areas that localize the homing and early engraftment of both leukemic and normal primitive hematopoietic cells. Real-time imaging of cell-cell interactions in SCID mice bone marrow was performed after injection of fluorescently-labeled leukemic and other malignant cell lines. Progressive scanning and optical sectioning through the marrow revealed the existence of unique, spatially-restricted vascular domains to which the majority of marrow-homing tumor cells rolled and arrested. Serial imaging of mice on days 3 – 14 demonstrated that leukemic (Nalm-6 pre-B ALL) extravasation and early proliferation were restricted to these vascular beds. To define the molecular basis of these homing interactions, in vivo labeling of key vascular cell adhesion molecules and chemokines using fluorescent antibodies was performed. We observed that while ICAM-1, VCAM-1, PECAM-1 and P-selectin were expressed diffusely throughout the marrow vasculature, the expression of E-selectin and the chemokine receptor CXCR4 ligand SDF-1 was distinctly limited to vessels that supported leukemic cell engraftment. In vivo co-localization experiments confirmed Nalm-6 binding was restricted to vascular beds expressing both E-selectin and SDF-1. In functional studies, disruption of E-selection had a modest effect on leukemic homing (<20% diminution), while pharmacologic blockade of CXCR4 decreased Nalm-6 binding to vessels by approximately 80%. To explore the normal function of this vascular niche, we next examined whether benign primitive hematopoietic cells might preferentially home to these same vascular microdomains. Fluorescently-labeled stem and progenitor cells (HSPC) isolated from donor balb/c mice were injected into recipient mice and imaging was performed at multiple time points. HSPC were found to adhere to the BM microvasculature in the same restricted domains. At 70 days post-injection, HSPC had extravasated, were persistent in these perivascular areas and had undergone cell division as assessed by dye dilution. Our findings show that these microdomains serve as vascular portals around which leukemic and hematopoietic stem cells engraft, suggesting that this molecularly distinct vasculature provides both a cancer and normal stem cell niche. Specialized vascular structures therefore appear to delineate a stem cell microenvironment that is exploited by malignancy.
Sipkins, DA; Wei, X; Wu, JW; Means, TK; Luster, AD; Lin, CP; Scadden, DT
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)