Osteolineage cells represent one of the critical bone marrow niche components that support maintenance of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs). Recent studies demonstrate that extracellular vesicles (EVs) regulate stem cell development via horizontal transfer of bioactive cargo, including microRNAs (miRNAs). Using next-generation sequencing we show that human osteoblast-derived EVs contain highly abundant miRNAs specifically enriched in EVs, including critical regulators of hematopoietic proliferation (e.g., miR-29a). EV treatment of human umbilical cord blood-derived CD34 + HSPCs alters the expression of candidate miRNA targets, such as HBP1, BCL2 and PTEN. Furthermore, EVs enhance proliferation of CD34 + cells and their immature subsets in growth factor-driven ex vivo expansion cultures. Importantly, EV-expanded cells retain their differentiation capacity in vitro and successfully engraft in vivo. These discoveries reveal a novel osteoblast-derived EV-mediated mechanism for regulation of HSPC proliferation and warrant consideration of EV-miRNAs for the development of expansion strategies to treat hematological disorders.
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