Haematopoietic system

Haematopoietic system
Sites of haematopoiesis periods before and after birth.
FunctionCreation of the cells of blood.
Anatomical terminology

The haematopoietic system is the system in the body involved in the creation of the cells of blood.


Stem cells

Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) reside in the medulla of the bone (bone marrow) and have the unique ability to give rise to all of the different mature blood cell types and tissues. HSCs are self-renewing cells: when they differentiate, at least some of their daughter cells remain as HSCs, so the pool of stem cells is not depleted. This phenomenon is called asymmetric division. The other daughters of HSCs (myeloid and lymphoid progenitor cells) can follow any of the other differentiation pathways that lead to the production of one or more specific types of blood cell, but cannot renew themselves. The pool of progenitors is heterogeneous and can be divided into two groups; long-term self-renewing HSC and only transiently self-renewing HSC, also called short-terms. This is one of the main vital processes in the body.


In developing embryos, blood formation occurs in aggregates of blood cells in the yolk sac, called blood islands. As development progresses, blood formation occurs in the spleen, liver and lymph nodes. When bone marrow develops, it eventually assumes the task of forming most of the blood cells for the entire organism. However, maturation, activation, and some proliferation of lymphoid cells occurs in the spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes. In children, haematopoiesis occurs in the marrow of the long bones such as the femur and tibia. In adults, it occurs mainly in the pelvis, cranium, vertebrae, and sternum.


Haematopoiesis (from Greek αἷμα, "blood" and ποιεῖν "to make"; also hematopoiesis in American English; sometimes also haemopoiesis or hemopoiesis) is the formation of blood cellular components. All cellular blood components are derived from haematopoietic stem cells. In a healthy adult person, approximately 1011–1012 new blood cells are produced daily in order to maintain steady state levels in the peripheral circulation.

All blood cells are divided into three lineages.

Clinical significance

Stem cell transplant

A stem cell transplant is a transplant intended to replace the progenitor hematopoietic stem cells

Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is the transplantation of multipotent hematopoietic stem cells, usually derived from bone marrow, peripheral blood, or umbilical cord blood. It may be autologous (the patient's own stem cells are used), allogeneic (the stem cells come from a donor) or syngeneic (from an identical twin).

It is most often performed for patients with certain cancers of the blood or bone marrow, such as multiple myeloma or leukemia. In these cases, the recipient's immune system is usually destroyed with radiation or chemotherapy before the transplantation. Infection and graft-versus-host disease are major complications of allogeneic HSCT.

Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation remains a dangerous procedure with many possible complications; it is reserved for patients with life-threatening diseases. As survival following the procedure has increased, its use has expanded beyond cancer to autoimmune diseases and hereditary skeletal dysplasias; notably malignant infantile osteopetrosis and mucopolysaccharidosis.

This page was last updated at 2023-11-12 13:14 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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