In order to develop a convenient small-animal model that can support the differentiation of human bone-marrow-derived CD34+ cells, we transplanted SCID mice with an immortalized human stromal cell line, Lof( 11-10). The Loffi 1-10) cell line has been characterized to produce human cytokines capable of supporting primitive human hematopoietic cell proliferation in vitro. Intraperitoneal injection of Loffi 1-10) cells into irradiated SCID mice by itself resulted in a dose-dependent survival of the mice from lethal irradiation. The radioprotective survival was reflected by an increase in the growth and number of mouse bone-marrow-derived committed hematopoietic progenitors. The Loff 11-10) cells localized to the spleen, but not to the bone marrow of these animals and resulted in detectable levels of circulating human IL-6 in their plasma. Secondary intravenous injections of either human or simian CD34+ cells into the Loffi l-10)-transplanted SCID mice resulted in engraftment of injected cells within the bone marrow of these mice. The utility of this small-animal model that allows the growth and differentiation of human CD34+ cells and its potential use in clinical gene therapy protocols are discussed.

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