Abstract 2351

Regulation of hematopoiesis during stress situations, such as bacterial or viral infections, is crucial for the maintenance of sufficient numbers of cells in the blood. It has become clear that activated immune cells provide such feedback signals to the bone marrow. An important mediator in this respect is the pro-inflammatory cytokine Interferon-gamma (IFNγ), which is produced in the bone marrow by activated T cells during the course of an infection. As such, we have previously shown that T cell-derived IFNγ can directly influence the output of myeloid and erythroid cells.

To address whether IFNγ can also influence the function of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), we cultured highly purified HSCs from murine bone marrow with or without IFNγ and found that IFNγ strongly reduced the absolute number of HSCs in these cultures, both phenotypically and functionally. We confirmed that the functional impact of IFNγ was due to a direct effect on HSCs and not mediated by more differentiated progenitors. In addition, IFNγ does not directly influence the quiescent state of purified HSC, nor their cell cycle entry. By labeling HSCs with CFSE, we found that IFNγ reduces HSC expansion in vitro by decreasing their proliferative capacity, but not their ability to differentiate. To investigate the impact of IFNγ on HSCs in vivo, we infected WT and IFNγ−/− mice with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) and found that IFNγ severely impaired HSC recovery upon infection. Finally, to exclude indirect effects of IFNγ on other cell types we generated chimeric mice with bone marrow from both WT and IFNγR−/− mice. Infection of these mixed-chimeric mice with LCMV resulted in decreased recovery of WT HSCs, but not of IFNγR−/− HSCs in the same mouse, which formally demonstrates that IFNγ directly impairs the proliferation of HSCs in vivo.

Based on these experiments we conclude that IFNγ reduces HSC self renewal both in vitro and in vivo. Importantly, we thereby challenge the current concept in literature that IFNγ would induce the proliferation of HSCs (Baldridge et al, Nature 2010). Our findings thus provide challenging new insight regarding the impact of immune activation on hematopoiesis and will contribute significantly to the scientific discussion concerning this process. Moreover, our data also provide an explanation for the occurrence of anemia and bone marrow failure in several human diseases in which IFNγ is chronically produced.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.