Stimulation of Human Early and Late Erythropoietic Progenitor Cells by Insulin: Evidence for Different Mechanisms

  • Gunther Konwalinka
  • Christian J. Wiedermann
  • Andreas Petzer
  • Kurt Grunewald
  • Christoph Breier
  • Josef Patsch
  • Dietmar Geissler
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 34)


In order to investigate cellular mechanisms involved in insulin stimulation of erythropoiesis, we have studied the response of early (BFU-e) and late (CFU-e) erythroid progenitor cells in a serum-free agar culture system. In this assay system, CFU-e proliferation occurred in media containing low-density lipoproteins, bovine serum albumin, transferrin and recombinant erythropoietin (rEPO). Insulin in physiological concentrations as low as 10-12M, added directly to cultures, augmented CFU-e colony formation. This stimulatory effect was also seen when monocyte- and T lymphocyte-depleted cells from normal donors were cultured. In contrast, BFU-e was not stimulated by media devoid of insulin. Occurrence of BFU-e colonies required the presence of insulin in concentrations higher than 10-8M This insulin effect was not dependent on the presence of monocytes and T lymphocytes. Delayed addition studies of rEPO to insulin containing cultures revealed a slight but significant survival rate of CFU-e. A similar survival rate was found for BFU-e. From this, we conclude that insulin stimulates CFU-e by an EPO-like activity. For BFU-e, however, the decline in the number of bursts caused by EPO deprivation implies that insulin does not act directly as a burst-promoting activity but that it probably induces the release of this activity from non-adherent and T lymphocyte-depleted bone marrow cells.


Colony Formation Hemopoietic Stem Cell Recombinant Erythropoietin Erythroid Progenitor Cell Normal Human Bone Marrow 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gunther Konwalinka
    • 1
  • Christian J. Wiedermann
    • 1
  • Andreas Petzer
    • 1
  • Kurt Grunewald
    • 1
  • Christoph Breier
    • 1
  • Josef Patsch
    • 1
  • Dietmar Geissler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria

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