A population of nonneuronal GFRα3-expressing cells in the bone marrow resembles nonmyelinating Schwann cells

Jenny Thai, Alanna C. Green, Lincon A. Stamp, Nick J. Spencer, Louise E. Purton, Jason Ivanusic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Artemin is a neurotrophic factor that plays a crucial role in the regulation of neural development and regeneration and has also been implicated in the pathogenesis of inflammatory pain. The receptor for artemin, GFRα3, is expressed by sympathetic and nociceptive sensory neurons, including some that innervate the bone marrow, but it is unclear if it is also expressed in other cell types in the bone marrow. Our goal in the present study was to characterise the expression of GFRα3 in nonneuronal cells in the bone marrow. Immunohistochemical studies revealed that GFRα3-expressing cells in the bone marrow are spatially associated with blood vessels and are in intimate contact with nerve fibres. We used various combinations of markers to distinguish different cell types and found that the GFRα3-expressing cells expressed markers of nonmyelinating Schwann cells (e.g. GFAP, p75NTR, nestin). Analysis of bone marrow sections of Wnt1-reporter mice also demonstrated that they originate from the neural crest. Further characterisation using flow cytometry revealed that GFRα3 is expressed in a population of CD51+Sca1PDGFRα cells, reinforcing the notion that they are neural crest-derived, nonmyelinating Schwann cells. In conclusion, there is a close association between peripheral nerve terminals and a population of nonneuronal cells that express GFRα3 in the bone marrow. The nonneuronal cells have characteristics consistent with a neural crest-derived, nonmyelinating Schwann cell phenotype. Our findings provide a better understanding of the expression pattern of GFRα3 in the bone marrow microenvironment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-456
Number of pages16
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Artemin
  • Bone marrow
  • GFRα3
  • Nonmyelinating Schwann cells
  • Peripheral nervous system


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