Introduction Microparticles (MPs) are small vesicles 100nm-1μm derived from the apoptotic or stimulated cells. The mechanism of their production is distinctive from exosomes or apoptotic bodies. MPs have been detected in the blood in many pathological conditions associated mainly with endothelial injury, thrombosis and inflammation. Our previous study showed that MPs originated also from CD34+ cells of umbilical cord blood, which is an alternative source for hemopoeitic stem cell transplantation. MPs considered as markers of cell activation, as well as apoptosis. Apoptosis is a complex interaction network regulated either through death receptor like FAS or through the internal pathway of Bcl2, Bax. The two pathways activate the executor of cell death program, caspases. The aim of this study is to elucidate the role of MPs in apoptosis of hemopoietic cells.

Methods Umbilical cord blood units (UCB) were collected after informed consent. The units that were used in this study, were rejected as not appropriate for transplantation due to low volume. The HL60 promyelocytic leukemia cell line was cultured in RPMI (Life Technologies) supplemented with 10% fetal calf serum (FCS) and 1% penicillin-strepromycin. CD34+ MPs were isolated from the plasma of UCBs after centrifugation and magnetic bead MACS purification (Miltenyi Biotec). The number of CD34+ MPs was estimated by flow cytometry using CD34-PE and Annexin V-FITC Abs. Mononuclear cells (MNC) were collected after density gradient centrifugation on lymphoprep (Fresenius) and were cultured for 3 and 6 days in the presence of CD34+ MPs. Viability assays were performed using 7-AAD in flow cytometry. In another set of experiments different numbers of CD34+ MPs were used in MNC cultures. RNA was extracted from MNC using Qiagen RNA extraction kit and reverse transcribed into cDNA using Superscript II reverse transcriptase (Invitrogen) with random primers (Promega). RT-PCR was performed using Platinum Pfx polymerase (Invitrogen). The primers for FAS, BCL2, BAX, caspase 3, survivin and GAPDH genes were used. The PCR products were analysed in an agarose gel electrophoresis.

Results Cell viability increased in UCB derived MNC (UCB-MNC) incubated with CD34+ MPs (800 /ml) after 3 day vs. 6 days of culture. The UCB-MNC viability was higher using 800/ml CD34+ MPs vs. 400/ml. In contrast, CD34+ MPs (800 /ml vs. 400/ml) did not affect the viability in one day MNC culture. Purified CD34+ MPs were applied to UCB-MNC cultures and by RT-PCR was shown increased expression of BCL2 gene as well as FAS and caspase-3 genes. The promyelocytc cell line HL60 has been used in order to analyze the effect of CD34+ MPs in leukemic cells. The expression of Bcl2 was decreased in HL60 cells co-incubated with CD34+ MPs. This result shows an opposite effect of CD34+ MPs in the apoptotic gene Bcl2 for the HL60 cells indicating that there are different mechanisms of MP function in various cell types.

Conclusions In this study we have identified and monitored the time- and dose-dependent effect of CD34-derived microparticles in the viability of UCB mononuclear cells. Additionally, CD34+ MPs function is accosiated with the high expression of the pro- and anti-apoptotic Bcl2 and apoptotic FAS. In contrast CD34+ MPs decreases the expression of Bcl2 in the promyelocytic leukemia cell line HL60. Therefore the stem cell derived microparticles might serve as a potential regulator of apoptosis in normal and malignant hematopoietic cells.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

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