Multimodal imaging reveals structural and functional heterogeneity in different bone marrow compartments: functional implications on hematopoietic stem cells


Intravital microscopy of the calvarium is the only noninvasive method for high-resolution imaging of the bone marrow (BM) and hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) niches. However, it is unclear if the calvarium is representative of all BM compartments. Using the combination of whole body optical imaging, intravital microscopy, and "in vivo fluorescence trapping," a thorough comparison of HSCs and putative HSC niches in the calvaria, epiphyses, and diaphyses, at steady state or after HSC transplantation, can be made. We report substantial heterogeneity between different BM compartments in terms of bone-remodeling activity (BRA), blood volume fraction (BVF), and hypoxia. Although BVF is high in all BM compartments, including areas adjacent to the endosteum, we found that compartments displaying the highest BVF and BRA were preferentially seeded and engrafted upon HSC transplantation. Unexpectedly, the macroanatomical distribution of HSCs at steady state is homogeneous across these 3 areas and independent of these 2 parameters and suggests the existence of "reconstituting niches," which are distinct from "homeostatic niches." Both types of niches were observed in the calvarium, indicating that endochondral ossification, the process needed for the formation of HSC niches during embryogenesis, is dispensable for the formation of HSC niches during adulthood.

Journal details

Journal Blood
Volume 122
Issue number 10
Pages 1730-1740
Publication date