Human Placenta Is a Potent Hematopoietic Niche Containing Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells throughout Development
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Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are responsible for the life-long production of the blood system and are pivotal cells in hematologic transplantation therapies. During mouse and human development, the first HSCs are produced in the aorta-gonad-mesonephros region. Subsequent to this emergence, HSCs are found in other anatomical sites of the mouse conceptus. While the mouse placenta contains abundant HSCs at midgestation, little is known concerning whether HSCs or hematopoietic progenitors are present and supported in the human placenta during development. In this study we show, over a range of developmental times including term, that the human placenta contains hematopoietic progenitors and HSCs. Moreover, stromal cell lines generated from human placenta at several developmental time points are pericyte-like cells and support human hematopoiesis. Immunostaining of placenta sections during development localizes hematopoietic cells in close contact with pericytes/perivascular cells. Thus, the human placenta is a potent hematopoietic niche throughout development.