Sex-specific niche signaling contributes to sexual dimorphism following stem cell transplantation
16 June 2022
Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplantation (HST) is a curative treatment for many hematopoietic cancers and bone marrow (BM) disorders but is currently limited by numerous complications including a lengthy recovery period, prolonged neutropenia resulting in severe infections and bleeding, and a high incidence of graft vs. host disease (GVHD). While clinical studies have demonstrated that sex mismatch, notably male recipients with female donor cells, results in increased risk of GVHD (likely due to male recipient minor histocompatibility antigens targeted by donor female T-cells 1 ), increased non-relapse mortality, and decreased overall survival, the mechanisms underlying sex-determinants on hematopoiesis and post-transplant recovery are not clear. In this manuscript we have identified: 1) unique expression of hematopoietic niche factors in the BM and spleens of male and female mice, 2) altered kinetics of hematopoietic reconstitution following transplantation when male vs. female BM is used as the donor cell source, 3) a sex-specific role for the recipient niche in promoting post HST recovery, and 4) a dose-dependent role for exogenous sex hormones in maintaining hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs). Taken together, these data demonstrate that sex-specific cellular and molecular signaling occurs during hematopoietic regeneration. Further identifying novel sex-dependent determinants of regeneration following transplantation will not only enhance understanding of steady state versus regeneration hematopoiesis but may also reveal unique (and potentially sex-specific) therapeutic targets to accelerate hematologic recovery.