Early lymphoid progenitors in mouse and man are highly sensitive to glucocorticoids

Hideya Igarashi, Kay L. Medina, Takafumi Yokota, Maria Isabel D. Rossi, Nobuo Sakaguchi, Philip C. Comp, Paul W. Kincade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Glucocorticoids are extensively used in anti-inflammatory therapy and may contribute to the normal regulation of lymphopoiesis. This study utilized new information about the early stages of lymphopoiesis in mouse and man to determine precisely which cell types are hormone sensitive. Cycling B lineage precursors were depleted in dexamethasone-treated mice, while mature, non-dividing CD45RHi CD19Hi lymphocytes, myeloid progenitors and stem cells with the potential for lymphocyte generation on transplantation were spared. Lineage marker-negative (Lin-) IL-7R+ Flk-2+ pro-lymphocytes also declined, but not as rapidly as the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-positive cells within an early Lin- c-kitHi Sca-1Hi fraction of bone marrow. Hormone-sensitive cells with additional properties of early lymphoid progenitors (ELP) were identified within the same Lin- c-kitHi Sca-1Hi subset using human μ transgenic mice and recombination-activating gene 1 (RAG1)/green fluorescent protein knock-in animals. Furthermore, cells with a recent history of RAG1 expression were more glucocorticoid sensitive than mature lymphocytes in marrow and spleen. Lymphocyte progenitors in mice bearing a human bcl-2 transgene were protected from dexamethasone treatment. However, isolated progenitors from either wild-type or bcl-2 ransgenic mice were directly sensitive to the hormone in stromal cell-free cultures, suggesting that additional factors must determine vulnerability to glucocorticoids. B lineage lymphocyte precursors were found to be abnormally elevated in the bone marrow of adrenalectomized or RU486-treated mice. This suggests that glucocorticoids may normally contribute to steady-state regulation of lymphopoiesis. Finally, parallel studies revealed that the earliest events in human lymphopoiesis are susceptible to injury during glucocorticoid therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-511
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Cellular differentiation
  • Human
  • Lymphopoiesis
  • Rodent
  • Steroid hormone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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