Rapid myeloerythroid repopulation after intrafemoral transplantation of NOD-SCID mice reveals a new class of human stem cells


A major problem hampering effective stem cell–based therapies is the absence of a clear understanding of the human hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) pool composition. The severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) repopulating cell (SRC) xenotransplant assay system provides a powerful tool for characterizing the frequency, cell surface markers, cell cycle status, homing and response to cytokine stimulation of human HSCs1,2,3. Clonal tracking of retrovirally transduced SRCs and transplantation of specific subpopulations revealed SRC classes with distinct repopulation potentials4,5,6,7. However, all HSC repopulation assays are based on intravenous injection, a complex process that requires circulation through blood, recognition and extravasation through bone marrow vasculature, and migration to a supportive microenvironment8,9,10,11. Thus, some classes of HSCs may remain undetected. By direct intrafemoral injection, we identified rapid SRCs (R-SRCs) within the LinCD34+CD38loCD36 subpopulation. R-SRCs rapidly generate high levels of human myeloid and erythroid cells within the injected femur, migrate to the blood and colonize individual bones of non-obese diabetic (NOD)-SCID mice within 2 weeks after transplantation. Lentivector-mediated clonal analysis of individual R-SRCs revealed heterogeneity in their proliferative and migratory properties. The identification of a new HSC class and an effective intrafemoral assay provide the tools required to develop more effective stem cell–based therapies that rely on rapid reconstitution.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Kinetic analysis of human cell engraftment after intrafemoral and intravenous delivery of LinCD34+ cord blood cells.
Figure 2: Multilineage engraftment of human cells after intrafemoral transplantation into NOD-SCID mice.
Figure 3: R-SRCs belong to the LinCD34+CD38loCD36 cell fraction.
Figure 4: Heterogeneity of the proliferative and migration potential of gene-marked cells 3 weeks after intrafemoral injection.


  1. 1

    Wang, J.C. et al. Normal and leukemic human stem cells assayed in immune-deficient mice. in Hematopoiesis: A Developmental Approach (ed. Zon, L.I.) 99–118 (Oxford University Press, New York, 2001).

  2. 2

    Lapidot, T. & Petit, I. Current understanding of stem cell mobilization: the roles of chemokines, proteolytic enzymes, adhesion molecules, cytokines, and stromal cells. Exp. Hematol. 30, 973–981 (2002).

  3. 3

    Bonnet, D. Haematopoietic stem cells. J. Pathol. 197, 430–440 (2002).

  4. 4

    Guenechea, G., Gan, O.I., Dorrell, C. & Dick, J.E. Distinct classes of human stem cells that differ in proliferative and self-renewal potential. Nat. Immunol. 2, 75–82 (2001).

  5. 5

    Glimm, H. et al. Previously undetected human hematopoietic cell populations with short- term repopulating activity selectively engraft NOD-SCID-beta2 microglobulin-null mice. J. Clin. Invest. 107, 199–206. (2001).

  6. 6

    Kerre, T.C. et al. Both CD34+38+ and CD34+38− cells home specifically to the bone marrow of NOD/LtSZ scid/scid mice but show different kinetics in expansion. J. Immunol. 167, 3692–3698 (2001).

  7. 7

    Hogan, C.J., Shpall, E.J. & Keller, G. Differential long-term and multilineage engraftment potential from subfractions of human CD34+ cord blood cells transplanted into NOD-SCID mice. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99, 413–418 (2002).

  8. 8

    Peled, A. et al. The chemokine SDF-1 activates the integrins LFA-1, VLA-4, and VLA-5 on immature human CD34(+) cells: role in transendothelial/stromal migration and engraftment of NOD-SCID mice. Blood 95, 3289–3296 (2000).

  9. 9

    van Hennik, P.B., de Koning, A.E. & Ploemacher, R.E. Seeding efficiency of primitive human hematopoietic cells in nonobese diabetic/severe combined immune deficiency mice: implications for stem cell frequency assessment. Blood 94, 3055–3061 (1999).

  10. 10

    Quesenberry, P.J. & Becker, P.S. Stem cell homing: rolling, crawling, and nesting. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95, 15155–15157 (1998).

  11. 11

    Cashman, J. & Eaves, C. High marrow seeding efficiency of human lymphomyeloid repopulating cells in irradiated NOD-SCID mice. Blood 96, 3979–3981 (2000).

  12. 12

    Cashman, J.D. et al. Kinetic evidence of the regeneration of multilineage hematopoiesis from primitive cells in normal human bone marrow transplanted into immunodeficient mice. Blood 89, 4307–4316 (1997).

  13. 13

    Wang, J.C., Doedens, M. & Dick, J.E. Primitive human hematopoietic cells are enriched in cord blood compared with adult bone marrow or mobilized peripheral blood as measured by the quantitative in vivo SCID-repopulating cell assay. Blood 89, 3919–3924 (1997).

  14. 14

    Conneally, E., Cashman, J., Petzer, A. & Eaves, C. Expansion in vitro of transplantable human cord blood stem cells demonstrated using a quantitative assay of their lympho-myeloid repopulating activity in nonobese diabetic-scid/scid mice. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 94, 9836–9841 (1997).

  15. 15

    Yahata, T. et al. A highly sensitive strategy for SCID-repopulating cell assay by direct injection of primitive human hematopoietic cells into NOD-SCID mice bone marrow. Blood 101, 2905–2913 (2003).

  16. 16

    Bhatia, M., Wang, J.C.Y., Kapp, U., Bonnet, D. & Dick, J.E. Purification of primitive human hematopoietic cells capable of repopulating immune-deficient mice. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 94, 5320–5325 (1997).

  17. 17

    Bhatia, M., Bonnet, D., Murdoch, B., Gan, O.I. & Dick, J.E. A newly discovered class of human hematopoietic cells with SCID- repopulating activity. Nat. Med. 4, 1038–1045 (1998).

  18. 18

    Ando, K. et al. Extensive generation of human cord blood CD34(+) stem cells from Lin(−) CD34(−) cells in a long-term in vitro system. Exp. Hematol. 28, 690–699 (2000).

  19. 19

    Lemischka, I.R. & Jordan, C.T. The return of clonal marking sheds new light on human hematopoietic stem cells. Nat. Immunol. 2, 11–12 (2001).

  20. 20

    Guenechea, G. et al. Transduction of human CD34+CD38- bone marrow and cord blood-derived SCID-repopulating cells with third-generation lentiviral vectors. Mol. Ther. 1, 452–459 (2000).

  21. 21

    Boggs, D.R. The total marrow mass of the mouse: a simplified method of measurement. Am. J. Hematol. 16, 277–286 (1984).

  22. 22

    Ueda, T. et al. Expansion of human NOD-SCID-repopulating cells by stem cell factor, Flk2/Flt3 ligand, thrombopoietin, IL-6, and soluble IL-6 receptor. J. Clin. Invest. 105, 1013–1021 (2000).

  23. 23

    Wang, J. et al. SCID-repopulating cell activity of human cord blood-derived CD34-negative cells assured by intra-bone marrow injection. Blood 101, 2924–2931 (2003).

  24. 24

    Hagglund, H. et al. Intraosseous compared to intravenous infusion of allogeneic bone marrow. Bone Marrow Transpl. 21, 331–315 (1998).

  25. 25

    Follenzi, A., Ailles, L.E., Bakovic, S., Geuna, M. & Naldini, L. Gene transfer by lentiviral vectors is limited by nuclear translocation and rescued by HIV-1 pol sequences. Nat. Genet. 25, 217–222 (2000).

Download references


We thank P Scheufler, P. Savage and the entire Obstetrics unit (Trillium Hospital) for providing cord blood samples; J. McKenzie for assistance with Southern analysis; S. Zhao (Hospital for Sick Children) for sorting; and T. Lapidot (Wiezmann Institute) and members of the Dick lab for critical comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by grants from the Association pour la Recherche contre le Cancer (F.M.), the Stem Cell Network of National Centres of Excellence (F.M. and J.E.D.) and the National Cancer Institute of Canada, with funds from the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network of the National Centres of Excellence, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and a Canada Research Chair (J.E.D.).

Author information

Correspondence to John E Dick.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mazurier, F., Doedens, M., Gan, O. et al. Rapid myeloerythroid repopulation after intrafemoral transplantation of NOD-SCID mice reveals a new class of human stem cells. Nat Med 9, 959–963 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1038/nm886

Download citation

Further reading