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Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) maintenance in vitro is challenging because stem cell survival relies on cell-to-cell contacts and paracrine signals from bone marrow (BM) microenvironment. Indeed, HSCs easily differentiate in conventional culture systems, and in vitro study of stem cell biology, leukemogenesis, and evolutionary trajectories is limited. 3D-culture systems can mimic tissue architecture and microenvironment thus preserving HSC phenotype. In this study, we developed a calcium alginate hydrogel-based 3D co-culture system of BM mononuclear cells (BMMCs) and BM-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) to study hemopoiesis in health and disease, such as biological roles of c-Kit M541L somatic mutation of unknown significance. BMMCs and peripheral blood stem cells were obtained from an acute myeloid leukemia patient who experienced graft failure and his haploidentical donor, and from a healthy donor. Cells embedded in alginate scaffolds were cultured for up to 21 days, and flow cytometry immunophenotyping was performed at baseline and every seven days. Our results showed suitability of our 3D culture system in preserving HSC vitality and phenotype throughout the culture period, and also in maintaining composition and vitality of total BMMCs. Moreover, 3D in vitro culture results suggested that M541L c-Kit somatic mutation could be a loss-of-function alteration by reducing HSC maintenance ability thus quickly promoting differentiation, as documented by in vivo graft failure and in vitro absence of long-term culture stability. In conclusions, our 3D BM-like biomimetic culture system allowed long-term stemness maintenance, making it a valid and effective tool for in vitro study of physiological and pathological hemopoiesis. © 2022 The Author(s).


Paola Manzo, Pasqualina Scala, Valentina Giudice, Marisa Gorrese, Angela Bertolini, Denise Morini, Francesca D'Alto, Rita Pepe, Antonio Pedicini, Barbara Izzo, Francesco Verdesca, Maddalena Langella, Bianca Serio, Giovanna Della Porta, Carmine Selleri. c-Kit M541L variant is related to ineffective hemopoiesis predisposing to clonal evolution in 3D in vitro biomimetic co-culture model of bone marrow niche. Heliyon. 2022 Dec;8(12):e11998

PMID: 36478848

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