Our blood may come from a hitherto unknown origin

The discovery could be important in advancing the search for treatments for leukemia and in facilitating bone marrow transplants.

A new study published in Nature proposes that the origin of our blood may not be what was thought. The scientific consensus is that blood arises from a small number of cells that eventually develop into blood stem cells — the hematopoietic progenitor cells— however, there may be an alternative formation.

“We were surprised when we found another group of progenitor cells that do not come from stem cells. They produce the majority of blood from fetal life to early adulthood, and then gradually start to decrease“, explains Fernando Camargo, a biologist at Harvard University and one of the authors of the study.

Hematopoietic cells are formed early in the development of the cells that line arteries. It was believed that the multipotent progenitor embryonic — the cells now discovered also produce blood — separated from hematopoietic cells early in their development.

Using a new genetic coding strategy, scientists were able to track cell division and noticed that hematopoietic and embryonic multipotent progenitor cells emerged from the same coating.

To do this, the scientists inserted pieces of easily identifiable DNA sequences into the genome of the mice’s cells that would be passed on to their descendants, reports the Science Alert.

“We will follow this study to try to understand the consequences of mutations that lead to leukemia by looking at their effects on both blood stem cells and embryonic multipotent progenitor cells in mice”, adds Camargo, who stresses that the objective is to determine whether the leukemias that arise from the two types of cells are different.

The contribution of multipotent embryonic progenitor cells also declines over time, which may explain why our immune system becomes weaker with age. The team hopes these findings will help in the search for new treatments to mitigate these effects.

ZAP //

Leave a Comment