Fanconi anemia is an autosomal recessive disease characterized by a high risk of developing bone marrow (BM) failure and acute myelogenous leukemia. We studied growth of hematopoietic progenitor cells in long- term BM culture (LTBMC) in 8 persons with Fanconi anemia and BM failure. Although LTBMC were initiated with very few BM cells, an adherent layer formed in cultures from 7 persons. In these cultures, the number of nonadherent cells increased for 10 to 15 days. Cell growth continued until cultures were terminated at day 35 to 40. During the first 2 weeks of culture, most nonadherent cells were differentiated myeloid cells. By days 35 to 40, the adherent layer contained cells able to initiate secondary LTBMCs. These data indicate that hematopoietic precursors cells able to proliferate and differentiate in vitro are present in the BM of persons with Fanconi anemia and BM failure. They suggest that mechanisms other than absent precursor cells are responsible for BM failure in Fanconi anemia.

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