AskDefine | Define haematopoiesis

Dictionary Definition

haematopoiesis n : the formation of blood cells in the living body (especially in the bone marrow) [syn: hematopoiesis, hemopoiesis, haemopoiesis, hemogenesis, haemogenesis, hematogenesis, haematogenesis, sanguification]

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  1. alternative spelling of hematopoiesis

Extensive Definition

Haematopoiesis (from Ancient Greek: haima blood; poiesis to make) (or hematopoiesis in the United States; sometimes also haemopoiesis or hemopoiesis) is the formation of blood cellular components. All of the cellular components of the blood are derived from haematopoietic stem cells. The term multipotent refers to the ability of a cell to become several different types of cell (but not all types in a germ layer). Multipotent haematopoietic cells can become any type of cell in the blood system. The multipotent cells determine what type of cell to become, or differentiate, in a step-wise fashion. It normally goes at a speed of 1011–1012 cells per day

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs)

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) reside in the marrow and have the unique ability to give rise to all of the different mature blood cell types. The HSCs are self renewing cells: when they proliferate, at least some of their daughter cells remain as HSCs, so the pool of stem cells does not become depleted. The other daughters of HSCs, however can each commit to any of alternative differentiation pathways that lead to the production of one or more specific types of blood cells.
Umbilical cord blood from a newborn baby that can be collected from its placenta and umbilical cord after the cord has been clamped is rich in hematopoietic stem cells, and is utilized as a source of stem cells for transplantation.


All blood cells are divided into three lineages.


Granulopoiesis (or granulocytopoiesis) is hematopoiesis of granulocytes.
It occurs primarily within bone marrow.
It involves the following stages:


In developing embryos, blood formation occurs in aggregates of blood cells in the yolk sac, called blood islands. As development progresses, blood formation occurs in the spleen, liver and lymph nodes. When bone marrow develops, it eventually assumes the task of forming most of the blood cells for the entire organism. However, maturation, activation, and some proliferation of lymphoid cells occurs in secondary lymphoid organs (spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes). In children, hematopoiesis occurs in the marrow of the long bones such as the femur and tibia. In adults, it occurs mainly in the pelvis, vertebrae, and sternum.


In some cases, the liver, thymus, and spleen may resume their haematopoietic function, if necessary. This is called extramedullary haematopoiesis. It may cause these organs to increase in size substantially.

Other vertebrates

In some vertebrates, haematopoiesis can occur wherever there is a loose stroma of connective tissue and slow blood supply, such as the gut, spleen, kidney or ovaries.


As a stem cell matures it undergoes changes in gene expression (the rate at which a gene is converted to its encoded products) that limit the cell types that it can become and move it closer to a specific cell type. These changes can often be tracked by monitoring the presence of proteins on the surface of the cell. Each successive change moves the cell closer to its final choice of cell type and further limits its potential cell type until it is fully differentiated. This process is usually presented as a dendrogram or decision tree, which starts with a stem cell at the single starting point, and branches for the major lineages that branch into intermediate semi-differentiated cell types, and eventually, to fully differentiated cells.


It seems like it's the location of blood cells that makes the cell determination and not vice versa (i.e. e.g. that a hematopoietic stem cell determined to differentiate into a specific cell type would end up at a destined location). For instance, the thymus provides an environment for thymocytes to differentiate into a variety of different functional T cells.
For the stem cells and other undifferentiated blood cells in the bone marrow, the determination is generally explained by the determinism theory of hematopoiesis, saying that colony stimulating factors and other factors of the hematopoietic microenvironment determine the cells to follow a certain path of cell differentiation. This is the classical way of describing hematopoiesis. In fact, however, it is not really true. The ability of the bone marrow to regulate the quantity of different cell types to be produced is more accurately explained by a stochastic theory: Undifferentiated blood cells are determined to specific cell types by randomness. The hematopoietic microenvironment avails some of the cells to survive and some, on the other hand, to perform apoptosis. By regulating this balance between different cell types, the bone marrow can alter the quantity of different cells to ultimately be produced.

Haematopoietic growth factors

[[Image:Hematopoiesis (human) cytokines.jpg|thumb|500px|Diagram including some of the important cytokines that determine which type of blood cell will be created. On the other hand, thrombopoietin makes myeloid progenitor cells differentiate to megakaryocytes (thrombocyte-forming cells). Examples of cytokines and the blood cells they give rise to, is shown in the picture to the right.

Transcription factors

Growth factors initiate signal transduction pathways, altering transcription factors, that, in turn activate genes that determines the differentiation of blood cells.
The early committed progenitors express low levels of transcription factors that may commit them to discrete cell lineages. Which cell lineage is selected for differentiation may depend both on chance and on the external signals received by progenitor cells. Several transcription factors have been isolated that regulate differentiation along the major cell lineages. For instance, PU.1 commits cells to the myeloid lineage whereas GATA-1 has an essential role in erythropoietic and megakaryocytic differentiation.


  • Parslow,T G.;Stites, DP.; Terr, AI.; and Imboden JB.Medical Immunology.1.ISBN 0838562787
haematopoiesis in Czech: Krvetvorba
haematopoiesis in German: Hämatopoese
haematopoiesis in Spanish: Hematopoyesis
haematopoiesis in French: Hématopoïèse
haematopoiesis in Italian: Emopoiesi
haematopoiesis in Dutch: Hematopoëse
haematopoiesis in Polish: Hemopoeza
haematopoiesis in Portuguese: Hematopoiese
haematopoiesis in Russian: Гемопоэз
haematopoiesis in Swedish: Hematopoes
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