Adipocytes are part of hematopoietic microenvironment, even though they are generally believed to play no active role during hematopoiesis. We have shown that accumulation of fat cells in femoral bone marrow (BM) coincides with increased expression of neuropilin-1 (NP-1), while it is weakly expressed in hematopoietic iliac crest BM. Starting from this observation, we postulated that adipocytes might exert a negative effect on hematopoiesis mediated through NP-1.
Material and Methode
To test this hypothesis, we set up BM adipocytes differentiated into fibroblast-like fat cells (FLFC), which share the major characteristics of primitive unilocular fat cells, as an experimental model.
Morphological and immunophenotypic analysis of FLFCs in co-culture with CD34+ cells revealed that FLFCs constitutively produced M-CSF and induced CD34+ differentiation into macrophages independently of cell-to-cell contact. By contrast, granulopoiesis was hampered by cell-to-cell contact but could be restored in transwell culture conditions, together with G-CSF production. Both functions were also recovered when FLFCs cultured in contact with CD34+ cells were treated with an antibody neutralizing NP-1, which proved its critical implication in contact inhibition.
Our data provide the first evidence that adipocytes exert regulatory functions during hematopoiesis that might be implicated in some pathological processes.