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Blood. 2001 Nov 1;98(9):2720-5.

Interleukin-6 stimulates thrombopoiesis through thrombopoietin: role in inflammatory thrombocytosis.

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  • 1Divisions of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and of General Internal Medicine, the Department of Medicine, University Hospital Innsbruck, Austria.


Baseline platelet production is dependent on thrombopoietin (TPO). TPO is constitutively produced and primarily regulated by receptor-mediated uptake by platelets. Inflammatory thrombocytosis is thought to be related to increased interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels. To address whether IL-6 might act through TPO to increase platelet counts, TPO was neutralized in vivo in C57BL/10 mice treated with IL-6, and hepatic TPO mRNA expression and TPO plasma levels were studied. Transcriptional regulation of TPO mRNA was studied in the hepatoblastoma cell line HepG2. Furthermore, TPO plasma levels were determined in IL-6-treated cancer patients. It is shown that IL-6-induced thrombocytosis in C57BL/10 mice is accompanied by enhanced hepatic TPO mRNA expression and elevated TPO plasma levels. Administration of IL-6 to cancer patients results in a corresponding increase in TPO plasma levels. IL-6 enhances TPO mRNA transcription in HepG2 cells. IL-6-induced thrombocytosis can be abrogated by neutralization of TPO, suggesting that IL-6 induces thrombocytosis through TPO. A novel pathway of TPO regulation by the inflammatory mediator IL-6 is proposed, indicating that the number of platelets by themselves might not be the sole determinant of circulating TPO levels and thus of thrombopoiesis. This regulatory pathway might be of relevance for the understanding of reactive thrombocytosis.

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