Serially transplanted bone marrow eventually fails to reconstitute lethally irradiated mice. The reasons for this loss of repopulating ability are unknown. We showed that serial bone marrow transplantation changed the ratio of hematopoietic progenitors in bone marrow. The numbers of granulocyte-macrophage colony-forming units (CFU-GM) in the bone marrow did not change with serial transplantation. Spleen CFU (CFU- S) numbers decreased with serial transfer but remained at levels which should be associated with engraftment, even on the transfers which were unsuccessful. The CFU-S, therefore, did not appear to be the cells responsible for long-term hematopoietic repopulation. The number of successful serial transfers was dependent on the size of the grafts, and prolonging the time interval between transfers reestablished the ability of the serially transplanted marrow to reconstitute lethally irradiated recipients. Serial bone marrow transplantation dissociated two phases of engraftment. The first unsustained phase was maintained with repeated serial transfer and appeared to be produced by committed progenitors. The second sustained phase was eventually lost with repeated serial transfer and was apparently due to the pluripotent stem cell.

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