25 March 2024

Different bones may have different roles in the blood production system, according to a major new study.

Some bones may have a specialised role in responding to challenges such as infection or blood loss, researchers reported in Nature.

A team led by researchers from Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, made their discoveries by studying the individual bones of mice, seeking to establish how their marrow reacted to different challenges. The project involved 23 researchers from five centres.

To carry out the study, the researchers developed novel methods of confocal imaging microscopy to count cells. They used 35 markers to distinguish between different types of blood cells. This also yielded information about the micro-environment within the bone marrow.

They found that the sternum, tibia, vertebrae, and humerus were responsible for rapid blood cell production in response to blood loss. When a mouse was exposed to G-CSF treatment, it was the long bones that increased formation of granulocyte progenitors and mature neutrophils. The sternum, in contrast, reduced production of these cell types.

The researchers say: “Stunningly, we found that the response to haematopoietic insults varies across the skeleton. We speculate that certain bones have specialised to preferentially respond to some insults – and this will be the focus of future studies.”

Researcher Dr Daniel Lucas, of the Division of Experimental Hematology and Cancer Biology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, said: “Our data shows that biopsies that draw marrow from just one type of bone may not provide a full picture of how the blood production system has been affected by a disease or other insult. Meanwhile, efforts to stimulate production of certain blood cell types may be dramatically improved by focusing on specific bone types.”


Wu Q, Zhang J, Kumar S, Shen S, Kincaid M, Johnson CB, Zhang YS, Turcotte R, Alt C, Ito K, Homan S, Sherman BE, Shao TY, Slaughter A, Weinhaus B, Song B, Filippi MD, Grimes HL, Lin CP, Ito K, Way SS, Kofron JM, Lucas D. (2024) “Resilient anatomy and local plasticity of naïve and stress hematopoiesis.” Nature, doi: 10.1038/s41586-024-07186-6

Link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-024-07186-6

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