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We investigated the effect of a new fusion protein of IL-6 and the soluble IL-6R, H-IL-6, on the long-term ex vivo expansion of hematopoietic progenitors derived from AC133+cord blood cells. H-IL-6, which acts on both IL-6Ralpha-positive and IL-6Ralpha-negative cells, effectively synergized with FL and TPO with or without SCF for the propagation of primitive progenitors. However, IL-6 showed a greater synergistic effect with FL and TPO than H-IL-6 for long-term progenitor propagation. During the first 6 weeks of culture under stroma-free serum-containing conditions, IL-6 induced a 1.96 +/- 0.64-fold higher expansion of nucleated cells, a 2.28 +/- 0.33-fold higher expansion of CD34+ cells and a 2.74 +/- 0. 28-fold higher expansion of CD34+ AC133+ cells than H-IL-6 in combination with FL and TPO. The propagation of week 6 CAFC was up to four-fold higher in the presence of IL-6 than with H-IL-6. While the expansion of CD34+ and CD34+ AC133+ cells dropped after 5-7 weeks in the stroma-free cultures with FL, TPO and H-IL-6, a sustained expansion for 12 weeks was obtained in the presence of FL, TPO and IL-6. Stroma-contact greatly enhanced the progenitor expansion induced by FL and TPO or FL, TPO and H-IL-6 although the highest proliferation was again obtained in the presence of IL-6. In contrast, the presence of SCF resulted in increased differentiation. Since the majority of primitive progenitors are proposed to be IL-6Ralpha-negative, the results suggest that the synergistic effect of IL-6 is mediated by accessory cells, which have been more effectively stimulated by IL-6 than by the fusion peptide, H-IL-6, in this culture system.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





2036 - 2048


MRC Molecular Haematology Unit, Institute of Molecular Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK.


Hematopoietic Stem Cells, Stromal Cells, Fetal Blood, Humans, Thrombopoietin, Membrane Glycoproteins, Membrane Proteins, Antigens, CD, Stem Cell Factor, Infant, Newborn, Cytokine Receptor gp130