TGF-β1 is a cytokine with pleiotropic effects. It has been considered that TGF-β1plays a major role on hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) based on in vitro experiment. Achieving in vivo experiments proved to be difficult because constitutive TGF-β1 knock-out (KO) in mice leads to lethality during the first 4 weeks of life from a wasting syndrome related to tissue infiltration by activated T cells and macrophages. For this reason, hematopoiesis of TGF-β1−/− mice has not been studied in details. In contrast the role of TGF-β1 has been recently extensively studied in conditional TGF-β type I receptor (TβRI) KO mice. No clear effect was observed on HSC functions, suggesting that TGF-β1 was not a key physiological regulator of hematopoiesis in the adult. However, these experiments have some limitations. They do not exclude a putative role for TGF-β1 during fetal hematopoiesis and they do not specifically address the role of TGF-β1 on hematopoiesis because KO of TGF-β receptor leads to signaling arrest for all TGF-βs. In addition, other receptors may be involved in TGF-β1 signaling. For these reasons, we have investigated the hematopoiesis of constitutive TGF-β1 KO mice with a mixed Sv129 × CF-1 genetic background allowing the birth of a high proportion of homozygotes. In 2 week-old neonate mice, we have shown a decrease of bone marrow (BM) and spleen progenitors and a decrease of immature progenitors colony forming unit of the spleen (CFU-s). Moreover this was associated with a loss in reconstitutive activity of TGF-β1−/− HSC from BM. However, although asymptomatic, these mice had an excess of activated lymphocytes and an augmentation of Sca-1 antigen on hematopoietic cells suggesting an excess of γ-interferon release. Thus we studied hematopoiesis of 7 to 10 days-old neonate mice, before phenotypic modification and inflammatory cytokine release. Similar results were observed with a decrease in the number of progenitors and in the proliferation of TGF-β1−/− BM cells along with an increased differentiation but without an augmentation in apoptosis. Moreoever, a loss of long term reconstitutive capacity of BM Lineage negative (Lin−) TGF-β1−/− cells along with a diminution of homing of TGF-β1−/− progenitors was found. These results demonstrate that TGF-β1 may play a major role on the HSC/Progenitor compartment in vivo and that this defect does not seem to be linked to the immune disease. To completely overpass the risk of the inflammatory syndrome, we analyzed hematopoiesis of fetal liver (FL) of TGF-β1−/− mice and still found a decrease in progenitors, a profound defect in the proliferative capacities, in long term reconstitutive activity and homing potential of primitive FL hematopoietic cells. Our results demonstrate that TGF-β1 plays an important role during hematopoietic embryonic development. Altogether these findings suggest that TGF-β1 is a potent positive regulator for the in vivo homeostasis of the HSC compartment.

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