In order to better characterise the bone marrow microenvironment, stem cells and their niches, we have developed different technologies for in vivo contrasting procedures as well as for tracking normal and leukaemic cells in vivo, combining whole body near infrared fluorescence, bioluminescence imaging, intravital microscopy of intact live bone marrow as well as histology and flow cytometry.
Using improved contrasting procedures for the bone marrow endothelium we demonstrated that osteoblastic niches are in close proximity to vascular niches in flat but also in long bones. We believe that the combined use of advanced multimodal and multiscale analysis of the bone marrow will very likely shed new light on our understanding of haematopoietic stem cells and their niches in health and disease (Lassailly et al., 2010; Blood. 115(26): 5347-54; Lassailly et al., 2013; Blood. 122(10): 1730-40).
By using this technique on live animals, adding time-lapse imaging, we can visualise the arrival of human HSCs in the bone marrow and their behaviour over time. This should allow us to better define the niche and see whether LSCs use the same niche as normal HSCs (Foster et al., Stem Cell Reports, 2015).