Human bone marrow (BM) is a tissue of complex architectural organization, which includes granulopoietic loci, erythroblastic islets, and lymphocytic nodules. Oxygen tension (pO2) is an important determinant of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell proliferation and differentiation. Thus, understanding the impact of the BM architectural organization on pO2 levels in extravascular hematopoietic tissue is an important biophysical problem. However, currently it is impossible to measure pO2 levels and their spatial variations in the BM. Homogeneous Kroghian models were used to estimate pO2 distribution in the BM hematopoietic compartment (BMHC) and to conservatively simulate pO2-limited cellular architectures. Based on biophysical data of hematopoietic cells and characteristics of BM physiology, we constructed a tissue cylinder solely occupied by granulocytic progenitors (the most metabolically active stage of the most abundant cell type) to provide a physiologically relevant limiting case. Although the number of possible cellular architectures is large, all simulated pO2 profiles fall between two extreme cases: those of homogeneous tissues with adipocytes and granulocytic progenitors, respectively. This was illustrated by results obtained from a parametric criterion derived for pO2 depletion in the extravascular tissue. Modeling results suggest that stem and progenitor cells experience a low pO2 environment in the BMHC.
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