Hematopoietic stem cell and its subtypes


Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are the stem cells that give rise to other blood cells. This process is called haematopoiesis. This process occurs in the red bone marrow, in the core of most bones. In embryonic development, the red bone marrow is derived from the layer of the embryo called the mesoderm.

Haematopoiesis is the process by which all mature blood cells are produced. It must balance enormous production needs (the average person produces more than 500 billion blood cells every day) with the need to regulate the number of each blood cell type in the circulation. In vertebrates, the vast majority of hematopoiesis occurs in the bone marrow and is derived from a limited number of hematopoietic stem cells that are multipotent and capable of extensive self-renewal.

Hematopoietic stem cells give rise to different types of blood cells, in lines called myeloid and lymphoid. Myeloid and lymphoid lineages both are involved in dendritic cell formation. Myeloid cells include monocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, basophils, eosinophils, erythrocytes, and megakaryocytes to platelets. Lymphoid cells include T cells, B cells, natural killer cells, and innate lymphoid cells. The definition of hematopoietic stem cell has developed since HSCs were first discovered in 1961. The hematopoietic tissue contains cells with long-term and short-term regeneration capacities and committed multipotent, oligopotent, and unipotent progenitors. Hematopoietic stem cells constitute 1:10,000 of cells in myeloid tissue.

HSC transplants are used in the treatment of cancers and other immune system disorders.


Hematopoietic stem cells are found in the bone marrow of adults, especially in the pelvis, femur, and sternum. They are also found in umbilical cord blood and, in small numbers, in peripheral blood.

Stem and progenitor cells can be taken from the pelvis, at the iliac crest, using a needle and syringe.The cells can be removed as liquid (to perform a smear to look at the cell morphology) or they can be removed via a core biopsy (to maintain the architecture or relationship of the cells to each other and to the bone).


A colony-forming unit is a subtype of HSC. (This sense of the term is different from colony-forming units of microbes, which is a cell counting unit.) There are various kinds of HSC colony-forming units:

  • Colony-forming unit–granulocyte-erythrocyte-monocyte-megakaryocyte (CFU-GEMM)
  • Colony-forming unit–lymphocyte (CFU-L)
  • Colony-forming unit–erythrocyte (CFU-E)
  • Colony-forming unit–granulocyte-macrophage (CFU-GM)
  • Colony-forming unit–megakaryocyte (CFU-Meg)
  • Colony-forming unit–basophil (CFU-B)
  • Colony-forming unit–eosinophil (CFU-Eos)

The above CFUs are based on the lineage. Another CFU, the colony-forming unit–spleen (CFU-S), was the basis of an in vivo clonal colony formation, which depends on the ability of infused bone marrow cells to give rise to clones of maturing hematopoietic cells in the spleens of irradiated mice after 8 to 12 days. It was used extensively in early studies, but is now considered to measure more mature progenitor or transit-amplifying cells rather than stem cells.


  • Haematopoiesis
  • Quiescence
  • Mobility
  • DNA damage with aging

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