In the present study, we investigated the effects of stem cell factor (SCF) and/or thrombopoietin (TPO) on the cell production by cord blood CD34+ cells using a serum-deprived liquid culture system. Although SCF alone supported a modest production of neutrophilic cells and a remarkable generation of mast cells, the addition of TPO to the culture containing SCF caused an apparent generation of neutrophilic cells, identified by immunocytochemical staining and flow cytometric analysis. The significant production of neutrophilic cells by SCF and TPO was persistently observed from 2 weeks to 2 to 3 months of culture. The interaction between SCF and TPO on the neutrophilic cell generation was greater than the combined effects of SCF with granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) or granulocyte- macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). The addition of neutralizing antibody against G-CSF or GM-CSF did not influence the SCF + TPO-dependent neutrophilic cell production. A single-cell culture study showed that not only CD34+CD38+c-kit+ cells but also CD34+CD38-c-kit+ cells were responsible for the neutrophilic cell generation. In clonal cell cultures, GM progenitors as well as erythroid progenitors and multipotential progenitors expanded in the cultures supplemented with SCF and TPO. The neutrophilic cells grown by SCF + TPO were at myeloblast to band cell stages, and scarcely matured to segmented neutrophils. In addition, the cells generated by SCF + TPO were stained with monoclonal antibodies against myeloperoxidase, elastase, lactoferrin, and CD11b, but they had negligible levels of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and CD35. The replating of the CD34-c-kit(-/low) CD15+ cells grown by SCF + TPO into a culture containing SCF + G-CSF permitted both the terminal maturation into segmented cells and the appearance of ALP and CD35. These results indicate the existence of a G-CSF/GM-CSF-independent system of neutrophilic cell production.
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