Autologous mobilised peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) transplantation is now a standard approach in the treatment of haematological diseases to reconstitute haematopoiesis following myeloablative chemotherapy. However, there remains a period of severe neutropenia and thrombocytopenia before haematopoietic reconstitution is achieved. Ex vivo expanded PBSC have been employed as an adjunct to unmanipulated HSC transplantation, but have tended to be produced using complex cytokine mixtures aimed at multilineage (neutrophil and megakaryocyte) progenitor expansion. These have been reported to reduce or abrogate neutropenia but have little major effect on thrombocytopenia. Selective megakaryocyte expansion has been to date ineffective in reducing thrombocytopenia. This study was implemented to evaluate neutrophil specific rather than multilineage ex vivo expansion of PBSC for specifically focusing on reduction or abrogation of neutropenia.
CD34+ cells (PBSC) were enriched from peripheral blood mononuclear cells following G-CSF-mobilisation and cultured with different permutations of cytokines to determine optimal cytokine combinations and doses for expansion and functional differentiation and maturation of neutrophils and their progenitors. Results were assessed by cell number, morphology, phenotype and function.
A simple cytokine combination, SCF + Flt3-L + G-CSF, synergised to optimally expand and mature neutrophil progenitors assessed by cell number, phenotype, morphology and function (superoxide respiratory burst measured by chemiluminescence). G-CSF appears mandatory for functional maturation. Addition of other commonly employed cytokines, IL-3 and IL-6, had no demonstrable additive effect on numbers or function compared to this optimal combination. Addition of TPO, commonly included in multilineage progenitor expansion for development of megakaryocytes, reduced the maturation of neutrophil progenitors as assessed by number, morphology and function (respiratory burst activity).
Given that platelet transfusion support is available for autologous PBSC transplantation but granulocyte transfusion is generally lacking, and that multilineage expanded PBSC do not reduce thrombocytopenia, we suggest that instead of multilineage expansion selective neutrophil expansion based on this relatively simple cytokine combination might be prioritized for development for clinical use as an adjunct to unmanipulated PBSC transplantation to reduce or abrogate post-transplant neutropenia.