In vitro human bone marrow analog: Clinical potential

Joan E. Nichols, Jean Niles, Shannon Walls, Joaquin Cortiella

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Bone marrow is the primary site of hematopoiesis in adult humans. Bone marrow can be cultured in vitro but few simple culture systems fully support hematopoiesis beyond a few months. Human bone marrow analogs are long-term in vitro cultures of marrow stromal and hematopoietic stem cells that can be used to produce cells and products normally harvested from human donors. Bone marrow analog systems should exhibit confluence of the stromal cell populations, persistence of hematopoietic progenitor cells, presence of active regions of hematopoiesis and capacity to produce mature cell types for extended periods of time. Although we are still years away from realizing clinical application of products formed by artificial bone marrow analogs, the process of transitioning this research tool from bench to bedside should be fairly straightforward. The most obvious application of artificial marrow would be for production of autologous hematopoietic CD34+ stem cells as a stem cell therapy for individuals experiencing bone marrow failure due to disease or injury. Another logical application is for 'blood farming, a process for large-scale in vitro production of red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets, for transfusion or treatment. Other possibilities include production of nonhematopoietic stem cells such as osteogenic stromal cells, osteoblasts and rare pluripotent stem cells. Bone marrow analogs also have great potential as ex vivo human test systems and could play a critical role in drug discovery, drug development and toxicity testing in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-298
Number of pages10
JournalRegenerative Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Artificial bone marrow
  • Bioreactor cell culture system
  • Bone marrow analog
  • Bone marrow stromal cell n hematopoietic stem cell n human ex vivo organ models n MAPC n mesenchymal stem cell n multipotent adult progenitor cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Embryology


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