Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are self-renewing cells that reside in the bone marrow and generate all of the body’s blood cells. Clinicians can stimulate HSCs to enter the bloodstream, where they can be harvested and used in bone marrow transplantation to treat cancers and other conditions. But scientists have long assumed that HSCs otherwise remain immobile within their bone marrow niches.
In a study published last June in Cell Stem Cell, researchers led by David Fooksman, Ph.D., found that HSCs move constantly—probably to maintain their survival. The researchers used two-photon laser-scanning microscopy to observe HSCs in the bone marrow of living mice over several hours.
This image shows the white tracks of an HSC (labeled bright red) as it wanders the bone marrow and interacts with differently colored stromal (niche) cells that nourish the HSC by expressing growth factors such as SCF-1. Dr. Fooksman is an associate professor of pathology and of microbiology & immunology.