Mouse hematopoiesis is initiated by long-term hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) that differentiate into a series of multipotent progenitors that exhibit progressively diminished self-renewal ability. In human hematopoiesis, populations enriched for HSC have been identified, as have downstream lineage-committed progenitors, but not multipotent progenitors. Previous reports indicate that human HSC are enriched in Lin-CD34+CD38- cord blood and bone marrow, and express CD90. We demonstrate that the Lin-CD34+CD38- fraction of cord blood and bone marrow can be subdivided into three subpopulations: CD90+CD45RA-, CD90-CD45RA-, and CD90-CD45RA+. While, the function of the CD90- subpopulations is unknown, the CD90+CD45RA- subpopulation presumably contains HSC. We report here in vitro and in vivo functional studies of these three subpopulations from normal human cord blood. In vitro, CD90+CD45RA- cells formed all types of myeloid colonies in methylcellulose and were able to replate with 70% efficiency. CD90-CD45RA- cells also formed all types of myeloid colonies, but replated with only 33% efficiency. CD90-CD45RA+ cells failed to form myeloid colonies in methylcellulose. In liquid culture, CD90+CD45RA- cells gave rise to all three subpopulations; CD90-CD45RA- cells gave rise to both CD90- subpopulations, but not CD90+ cells; CD90-CD45RA+ cells gave rise to themselves only. These data establish an in vitro differentiation hierarchy from CD90+CD45RA- to CD90-CD45RA- to CD90-CD45RA+ cells among Lin-CD34+CD38- cord blood. In vivo, xenotransplantation of CD90+CD45RA- cells into NOD/SCID/IL-2R?-null newborn mice resulted in long-term multilineage engraftment with transplantation of as few as 10 purified cells. Secondary transplants from primary engrafted mice also resulted in long-term multilineage engraftment, indicating the presence of self-renewing HSC. Transplantation of CD90-CD45RA- cells also resulted in long-term multilineage engraftment; however, secondary transplants did not reliably result in long-term engraftment, indicating a reduced capacity for self-renewal. Transplantation of CD90-CD45RA+ cells did not result in any detectable human hematopoietic cells, indicating that the function of these cells is undetermined. Finally, transplantation of limiting numbers of CD90-CD45RA- cells (less than 100) resulted in multilineage human engraftment at 4 weeks, that was no longer detectable by 12 weeks. Thus, the CD90-CD45RA- subpopulation is capable of multilineage differentiation while exhibiting limited self-renewal ability. We believe this study represents the first prospective identification of a population of human multipotent progenitors, Lin-CD34+CD38-CD90-CD45RA- cord blood.

Author notes

Disclosure:Ownership Interests:; ILW was a member of the scientific advisory board of Amgen and owns significant Amgen stock. Membership Information: ILW co-founded and consulted for Systemix, is a co-founder and director of Stem Cells Inc., and co-founded Cellerant, Inc.