G-CSF is routinely used to hasten recovery from chemotherapy-induced neutropenia. We have recently shown that G-CSF, when combined with stem cell-damaging cytotoxic agents, results in enhanced stem cell damage and lass of marrow reserve, To investigate the mechanisms of stem cell damage caused by G-CSF, we gave C57BL/6 (B6) mice repeated doses of cyclophosphamide ([CY] 84 mg/kg) or carmustine ([BCNU] 13.2 mg/kg) and G CSF (250 mu g/kg/day) for either four days or eight days. Two different regimens of G-CSF were chosen to study the influence of increased proliferation on hematopoiesis which was measured at the end of the first, third and sixth 14-day cycle of each cytotoxic agent and 7 and 20 weeks after completion of all cycles. A spectrum of hematopoietic indices was measured including WBC, bone marrow cellularity, granulocyte/macrophage-colony-forming cells (GM-CFC), colony-forming cells with high proliferative-potential (HPP-CFC), cobblestone area-forming cells ([CAFC]-day 7 and CAFC-day 28), and long-term marrow repopulating ability in vivo.
Despite the absence of differences in peripheral blood cell counts or bone marrow cellularity 14 days after each dose, progenitor cell levels (HPP-CFC, GM-CFC, and CAFC-7) were increased up to 2.5-fold with cytotoxic agent and G-CSF administration compared with cytotoxic agent administration alone. Mice given G-CSF for eight days had the greatest number of progenitors suggesting a dose-response relationship for G-CSF administration. G-CSF resulted in a decrease in hematopoietic stem cell (CAFC-28) content when measured two weeks after each cycle of saline, CY, and BCNU. Twenty weeks after six cycles of BCNU, the reduction in stem cell levels persisted and was further decreased when G-CSF was added to BCNU for four or eight days.
Data from this study suggest that the most likely explanation for the damaging effects of G-CSF is that G-CSF directly or indirectly induces stem cells to differentiate into more committed hematopoietic cells resulting in a loss of marrow reserve. This effect is enhanced in animals with an already compromised hematopoietic stem cell compartment as seen with repeated doses of BCNU.