Pediatr Pulmonol. 2002 Oct;34(4):251-6.
Recent studies reported differentiation of both bone marrow and tissue-specific stem cells into cells of other organs. The demonstration that bone marrow stem cells differentiate into human hepatocytes in vivo has raised the possibility of new therapeutic approaches for liver disease. For diseases such as cystic fibrosis (CF), correction of the respiratory epithelium is being attempted by gene therapy. Differentiation of bone marrow stem cells into epithelium of the lung and airway was recently reported in an animal model, and would provide an alternative approach. We examined the nasal epithelium of female patients up to 15 years after gender-mismatched bone marrow transplantation. Donor-derived epithelial cells were sought with a combination of Y-chromosome fluorescence in situ hybridization and anti-cytokeratin antibody. In nasal brushing samples from 6 transplant-recipients, a median of 2.5% (range, 0.7-18.1%) of nuclei was male and identified as being of donor-origin. However, a complete absence of staining with anti-cytokeratin antibodies confirmed that these were not epithelial cells, but were likely to be either intraepithelial lymphocytes or mesenchymal cells. Following whole bone marrow transplantation, bone marrow progenitor cells do not differentiate into respiratory epithelium of the healthy upper airway. The differences between this and other studies could relate to the cells transplanted, to differential rates of turnover, or to the requirement for specific triggers to stimulate migration and differentiation. In the absence of such conditions, whole bone marrow transplantation is unlikely to provide a route for correction of the CF airway.Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.