BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Lack of understanding of the interplay between hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and the immune system has severely hampered stem cell research. Programmed death-1 (PD-L1) has been reported on parenchymal cells in patients with chronically inflamed livers and found to play an essential role in T cell homeostasis regulation. However, the bidirectional interaction between HSCs and lymphocytes remains elusive. Here, we aimed to get more insight into circulating CD34+ HSCs PD-L1 expression and T cell apoptosis in chronic HCV infected patients.
METHODS: CD34＋ HSCs were isolated and purified by immunomagnetic separation. PD-L1 expression was analyzed by quantitative PCR and flow cytometry. Furthermore, co-culture experiments between CD34＋ HSCs and T-lymphocytes were established. T-cell lymphocyte apoptosis in peripheral blood and in cultures was detected.
RESULTS: CD34＋ HSCs constitutively express low levels of PD-L1. Its expression is up-regulated in chronic HCV infected patients. Moreover, PD-L1 expression on circulating CD34＋ HSCs enhanced T cell apoptosis in peripheral blood and co-culture.
CONCLUSION: Our results suggest novel bidirectional interplay between HSCs and lymphocytes mediated by PD-L1 expression on CD34＋ HSCs. PD-L1 expression correlated with T-cell lymphocyte apoptosis. This may contribute to immunomodulatory properties of HSCs which improves its use for allogeneic transplantation.