A novel small molecule CXCR4 antagonist potently mobilizes hematopoietic stem cells in mice and monkeys

Xiao Fang, Xiong Fang, Yujia Mao, Aaron Ciechanover, Yan Xu, Jing An, Ziwei Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplantation is an effective treatment strategy for many types of diseases. Peripheral blood (PB) is the most commonly used source of bone marrow (BM)-derived stem cells for current HSC transplantation. However, PB usually contains very few HSCs under normal conditions, as these cells are normally retained within the BM. This retention depends on the interaction between the CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) expressed on the HSCs and its natural chemokine ligand, stromal cell-derived factor (SDF)-1α (also named CXCL12) present in the BM stromal microenvironment. In clinical practice, blocking this interaction with a CXCR4 antagonist can induce the rapid mobilization of HSCs from the BM into the PB. Methods: C3H/HEJ, DBA/2, CD45.1+, and CD45.2+ mice and monkeys were employed in colony-forming unit (CFU) assays, flow cytometry assays, and competitive/noncompetitive transplantation assays, to assess the short-term mobilization efficacy of HF51116 and the long-term repopulating (LTR) ability of HSCs. Kinetics of different blood cells and the concentration of HF51116 in PB were also explored by blood routine examinations and pharmacokinetic assays. Results: In this paper, we report that a novel small molecule CXCR4 antagonist, HF51116, which was designed and synthesized by our laboratory, can rapidly and potently mobilize HSCs from BM to PB in mice and monkeys. HF51116 not only mobilized HSCs when used alone but also synergized with the mobilizing effects of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) after co-administration. Following mobilization by HF51116 and G-CSF, the long-term repopulating (LTR) and self-renewing HSCs were sufficiently engrafted in primary and secondary lethally irradiated mice and were able to rescue and support long-term mouse survival. In monkeys, HF51116 exhibited strong HSC mobilization activity and quickly reached the highest in vivo blood drug concentration. Conclusions: These results demonstrate that HF51116 is a new promising stem cell mobilizer which specifically targets CXCR4 and merits further preclinical and clinical studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalStem Cell Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • CXCR4 antagonist
  • Hematopoietic stem cell mobilization
  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
  • Monkeys


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