Progenitor cell failure in the erythroid lineage is a particular problem in bone marrow failure. To provide insight into early erythopoietic development we used sensitive techniques to examine the effects of SCF, IL-3 and MIP-1 alpha on two developmentally arrested progenitor cell lines, HEL and K562. Quantitative flowcytometric analysis showed that both expressed receptors (SCF > MIP-1 alpha > IL-3). Qualitative analysis revealed HEL cells expressed more receptors than K562 cells. Clonogenic assays with sensitive haemoglobin detection showed that SCF and IL-3 did not support HEL development and reduced haemoglobin production. MIP-1 alpha reduced partially developed HEL colonies and haemoglobin in developed colonies. SCF increased development, but not haemoglobin in K562 cells, with IL-3 being more effective in both. MIP-1 alpha increased the proportion of well-developed K562 colonies but not haemoglobin. This suggests SCF, IL-3 and MIP-1 alpha all have a role to play in early erythroid cellular development, with differing actions depending on the stage of development
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