Spatial and biochemical interactions between bone marrow adipose tissue and hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in rhesus macaques

Jacob J. Robino, Nathalie Pamir, Sara Rosario, Lindsey B. Crawford, Benjamin J. Burwitz, Charles T. Roberts, Peter Kurre, Oleg Varlamov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Recent developments in in situ microscopy have enabled unparalleled resolution of the architecture of the bone marrow (BM) niche for murine hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs). However, the extent to which these observations can be extrapolated to human BM remains unknown. In humans, adipose tissue occupies a significant portion of the BM medullary cavity, making quantitative immunofluorescent analysis difficult due to lipid-mediated light scattering. In this study, we employed optical clearing, confocal microscopy and nearest neighbor analysis to determine the spatial distribution of CD34+ HSPCs in the BM in a translationally relevant rhesus macaque model. Immunofluorescent analysis revealed that femoral BM adipocytes are associated with the branches of vascular sinusoids, with half of HSPCs localizing in close proximity of the nearest BM adipocyte. Immunofluorescent microscopy and flow cytometric analysis demonstrate that BM adipose tissue exists as a multicellular niche consisted of adipocytes, endothelial cells, granulocytes, and macrophages. Analysis of BM adipose tissue conditioned media using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry revealed the presence of multiple bioactive proteins involved in regulation of hematopoiesis, inflammation, and bone development, with many predicted to reside inside microvesicles. Pretreatment of purified HSPCs with BM adipose tissue conditioned media, comprising soluble and exosomal/microvesicle-derived factors, led to enhanced proliferation and an increase in granulocyte-monocyte differentiation potential ex vivo. Our work extends extensive studies in murine models, indicating that BM adipose tissue is a central paracrine regulator of hematopoiesis in nonhuman primates and possibly in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115248
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Bone marrow adipose tissue
  • Bone marrow niche
  • Hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells
  • Microscopy
  • Nonhuman primates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology


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