The social norm of hematopoietic stem cells and dysregulation in leukemia

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The hematopoietic cell system is a complex ecosystem that meets the steady-state and emergency needs of the production of the mature blood cell types. Steady-state hematopoiesis replaces worn out cells, and the hematopoietic system is highly adaptive to needs during, for example, an infection or bleeding. Hematopoiesis is highly integrated and the cell hierarchy behaves in a highly social manner. The social tailoring of hematopoietic stem cells to needs includes the generation of cells that are biased towards a cell lineage; these cells remain versatile and can still adopt a different pathway having made a lineage “choice”, and some cytokines instruct the lineage fate of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. Leukemia stem cells, which may well often arise from the transformation of a hematopoietic stem cell, sustain the hierarchy of cells for leukemia. Unlike hematopoietic stem cells, the offspring of leukemia stem cells belongs to just one cell lineage. The human leukemias are classified by virtue of their differentiating or partially differentiating cells belonging to just one cell lineage. Some oncogenes set the fate of leukemia stem cells to a single lineage. Therefore, lineage restriction may be largely an attribute whereby leukemia stem cells escape from the normal cellular society. Additional antisocial behaviors are that leukemia cells destroy and alter bone marrow stromal niches, and they can create their own niches.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5063
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2022


  • hematopoietic stem cells
  • leukemia
  • leukemia stem cells
  • lineage fate
  • oncogenes


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