Human adult CD34- progenitor cells functionally express the chemokine receptors CCR1, CCR4, CCR7, CXCR5, and CCR10 but not CXCR4.
The homing and tissue-specific recruitment of bone marrow-derived progenitor cells is a major issue in stem cell research and therapy. Chemokine biology plays a central role in the homing and trafficking of leukocytes. Here we show functional expression of the chemokine receptors CCR1, CCR4, CCR7, CCR10, and CXCR5 on primary isolates of CD34-mesenchymal progenitor cells as well as immortalized mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) lines. Although mRNA expression of CXCR4 was detected in both primary cells and immortalized clones, the receptor was not expressed on the cell surface. On the basis of this expression profile, the MSC could potentially home to secondary lymphatic organs (CCR7, CXCR5), skin (CCR4, CCR10), small intestine (CCR10), and salivary glands (CCR10). To study tissue-specific homing, murine CD34-MSC lines showing concordant chemokine receptor expression were either transiently labeled with CMFDA, or were stably transfected with green fluorescent protein (GFP) expression plasmids. The MSC were then injected into syngeneic healthy mice, and the distribution of the cells determined. The injected cells efficiently homed to spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes. In addition, cells were found in the mucosa of the small intestine, skin, and salivary gland. No significant recruitment to bone marrow, liver, or kidney was seen. Chemokine biology may play an important role in the homeostasis and potentially tissue recruitment of early adult progenitor cells.