Blood Cell Lineage

The production of formed elements, or blood cells, is called hemopoiesis. Before birth, hemopoiesis occurs primarily in the liver and spleen, but some cells develop in the thymus, lymph nodes, and red bone marrow. After birth, most production is limited to red bone marrow in specific regions, but some white blood cells are produced in lymphoid tissue.

All types of formed elements develop from a single cell type — [glossary term:] stem cell (pleuripotential cells or hemocytoblasts). Seven different cell lines, each controlled by a specific [glossary term:] growth factor, develop from the hemocytoblast. When a stem cell divides, one of the "daughters" remains a stem cell and the other becomes a precursor cell, either a lymphoid cell or a myeloid cell. These cells continue to mature into various blood cells.

Leukemia can develop at any point in cell differentiation. The illustration below shows the development of the formed elements of the blood.

Illustration of the development of the formed elements of the blood.