Despite the therapeutic efficacy of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (allo-BMT), circulating hematopoietic progenitor cells after bone marrow transplantation have not been well characterized. In the present study, we focused on these 'post-transplant circulating progenitor cells (PTCPC)' which may be on their way to bone marrow. We analyzed the number of myeloid progenitor cells (CFU-GM) per 10 ml of peripheral blood (PB) on days 0 (just before transplantation), 1 (8-15 h after the completion of transplantation), 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 14, 17, 21, 28 and 35 after allo-BMT in five transplant patients using a standard methylcellulose assay. In addition, high proliferative potential colony-forming cells (HPP-CFC) of the harvested donor bone marrow (BM) and day 1 PB of recipients were assayed in five patients. The origin of HPP-CFC from day 1 PB was analyzed by polymerase chain reaction of a DNA region containing a variable number of tandem repeats. The replating potential of these HPP-CFC was evaluated by a secondary colony assay. The proportion of CD38(negative) cells among CD34+ cells in the harvested BM and day 1 PB was evaluated by two-color flow cytometric analysis. The number of CFU-GM on day 1 ranged from 6 to 73/10 ml PB, and became undetectable on day 5. The reappearance of PTCPC was observed on day 14, along with hematopoietic recovery. The proportion of HPP-CFC among myeloid colonies from day 1 PB was significantly higher than that from harvested BM (44.3 ± 10.4% vs 11.3 ± 2.1%, respectively, n = 5, P = 0.0030). These HPP-CFC from day 1 PB were confirmed to be of donor origin. More than 90% of these HPP-CFC had replating potential. Two-color flow cytometric analysis revealed that the proportion of CD34+CD38(negative) cells was significantly higher in day 1 PB than in the harvested BM (61.0 ± 16.5% vs 9.3 ± 3.5%, respectively, n = 7, P = 0.0002). These observations suggest that both primitive and committed transplanted myeloid progenitor cells may circulate in the very early period following allo-BMT.
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