Hematopoietic growth factors in human serum. Erythroid burst-promoting activity in normal subjects and in patients with severe aplastic anemia

Yu Ping Yen, Pilar Zabala, Kristine Doney, Gisella Clemons, Steven Gillis, Jerry S Powell, John W. Adamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The activity capable of promoting the growth of human erythroid burst-forming cells (BFU-E) in culture was measured in the sera from 39 patients with aplastic anemia (AA) and compared with similar activity in patients with various other hematologic disorders and 31 normal subjects. Burst-promoting activity (BPA) was determined by its ability to support erythroid burst growth from adherent cell-depleted normal human marrow cells. The results were expressed as the percentage of burst growth supported by test serum compared with cultures established in the presence of 20% test serum and 2.5% phytohemagglutinin-stimulated lymphocyte conditioned medium. The mean BPA level in normal serum was 18.5% (1.5 ± SEM) and was not significantly different from BPA levels in patients with various forms of nonhypoplastic anemia or polycythemia (10.2% ± 1.2%). In contrast, 15 of the 39 patients with AA had elevated BPA levels, ranging from 40.0% to 106.0%. These elevated levels did not correlate with serum erythropoietin or hematocrit values, white blood cell count, platelet count, time from diagnosis, or the presence or numbers of BFU-E in circulation. The BPA was shown not to be T cell growth factor (interleukin-2), and the effect was not blocked by the addition of cyclosporine to culture, consistent with a direct effect of this activity on BFU-E. When the 39 patients with AA were treated with antithymocyte globulin, 20 obtained a complete or partial remission. BPA levels determined from sera obtained before treatment did not correlate with response or duration of survival but did correlate with granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating activity (GM-CSA). Although BPA and GM-CSA may be elaborated as a result of lymphocyte activation in vivo in patients with AA, the elevated levels did not predict response to immunosuppressive therapy, and the physiologic role of these activities in normal hematopoietic regulation remains undefined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-383
Number of pages8
JournalThe Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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