New study helps understanding of root of blood cell disorders
A Gates Cambridge Scholar is first author on a study which sheds new light on the normal behavior of the cells that line blood vessels, called endothelial cells.
He and colleagues examined the blood vessel system in the bone marrow and how it can regulate the blood cell formation process [haematopoiesis] during adult life. Using gene deletion strategies and specific mouse models, they found that the breakdown of the blood vessel system, specifically the bone marrow sinusoids [vascular channels] which are found in the centre of the bone marrow cavity, leads to a breakdown in blood cell production. That can result in anaemia and thrombocytopenia, a condition characterised by abnormally low levels of platelets in the blood.
Stephen and colleagues found that these haematological problems were the result of the abnormal behaviour of the haematopoietic stem cell in the bone marrow cavity which continuously replenishes blood cells during adult life. In particular they show how the breakdown of bone marrow sinusoids lead to stem cell migration and exhaustion.
They say: "These findings can be used to further study novel treatment strategies for diseases that originate from abnormal behaviour of the vasculature, specifically vasculitis [an inflammation of the blood vessels], retinopathy [damage to the retina of the eyes] and several types of cancers."
Stephen is an MD/PhD candidate and is on the National Institutes of Health Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Programme.