Radiation causes a collapse of bone marrow cells and elimination of microvasculature. To understand how bone marrow recovers after radiation, we focused on mesenchymal lineage cells that provide a supportive microenvironment for hematopoiesis and angiogenesis in bone. We recently discovered a nonproliferative subpopulation of marrow adipogenic lineage precursors (MALPs) that express adipogenic markers with no lipid accumulation. Single-cell transcriptomic analysis revealed that MALPs acquire proliferation and myofibroblast features shortly after radiation. Using an adipocyte-specific Adipoq-Cre, we validated that MALPs rapidly and transiently expanded at day 3 after radiation, coinciding with marrow vessel dilation and diminished marrow cellularity. Concurrently, MALPs lost most of their cell processes, became more elongated, and highly expressed myofibroblast-related genes. Radiation activated mTOR signaling in MALPs that is essential for their myofibroblast conversion and subsequent bone marrow recovery at day 14. Ablation of MALPs blocked the recovery of bone marrow vasculature and cellularity, including hematopoietic stem and progenitors. Moreover, VEGFa deficiency in MALPs delayed bone marrow recovery after radiation. Taken together, our research demonstrates a critical role of MALPs in mediating bone marrow repair after radiation injury and sheds light on a cellular target for treating marrow suppression after radiotherapy.
Leilei Zhong, Lutian Yao, Nicholas Holdreith, Wei Yu, Tao Gui, Zhen Miao, Yehuda Elkaim, Mingyao Li, Yanqing Gong, Maurizio Pacifici, Amit Maity, Theresa M. Busch, Kyu Sang Joeng, Keith Cengel, Patrick Seale, Wei Tong, Ling Qin