Published online Oct 18, 2013. doi: 10.5312/wjo.v4.i4.198
Revised: December 19, 2012
Accepted: January 17, 2013
Published online: October 18, 2013
Bone marrow (BM) cavities are utilized for hematopoiesis and to maintain hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). HSCs have the ability to self-renew as well as to differentiate into multiple different hematopoietic lineage cells. HSCs produce their daughter cells throughout the lifespan of individuals and thus, maintaining HSCs is crucial for individual life. BM cavities provide a specialized microenvironment termed “niche” to support HSCs. Niches are composed of various types of cells such as osteoblasts, endothelial cells and reticular cells. Osteoclasts are unique cells which resorb bones and are required for BM cavity formation. Loss of osteoclast function or differentiation results in inhibition of BM cavity formation, an osteopetrotic phenotype. Osteoclasts are also reportedly required for hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell (HSPC) mobilization to the periphery from BM cavities. Thus, lack of osteoclasts likely results in inhibition of HSC maintenance and HSPC mobilization. However, we found that osteoclasts are dispensable for hematopoietic stem cell maintenance and mobilization by using three independent osteoclast-less animal models. In this review, I will discuss the roles of osteoclasts in hematopoietic stem cell maintenance and mobilization.