Expansion of primitive human hematopoietic stem cells by culture in a zwitterionic hydrogel.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Nature medicine (2019)


Bioinformatics Core Facility; Genomics Core Facility


The ability to expand hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) ex vivo is critical to fully realize the potential of HSPC-based therapies. In particular, the application of clinically effective therapies, such as cord blood transplantation, has been impeded because of limited HSPC availability. Here, using 3D culture of human HSPCs in a degradable zwitterionic hydrogel, we achieved substantial expansion of phenotypically primitive CD34 cord blood and bone-marrow-derived HSPCs. This culture system led to a 73-fold increase in long-term hematopoietic stem cell (LT-HSC) frequency, as demonstrated by limiting dilution assays, and the expanded HSPCs were capable of hematopoietic reconstitution for at least 24 weeks in immunocompromised mice. Both the zwitterionic characteristics of the hydrogel and the 3D format were important for HSPC self-renewal. Mechanistically, the impact of 3D zwitterionic hydrogel culture on mitigating HSPC differentiation and promoting self-renewal might result from an inhibition of excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) production via suppression of O-related metabolism. HSPC expansion using zwitterionic hydrogels has the potential to facilitate the clinical application of hematopoietic-stem-cell therapies.