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Blood. 1992 Feb 1;79(3):619-26.

Transforming growth factor beta inhibits megakaryocyte growth and endomitosis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.


Using a rat bone marrow culture system, the effect of transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF beta 1) on megakaryocyte growth and endoreduplication has been studied. Purified human platelet TGF beta 1 inhibited the number of megakaryocytes that appeared in culture at a half-maximal concentration of 0.66 +/- 0.21 ng/mL and inhibited megakaryocyte endoreduplication at a half-maximal concentration of 0.14 +/- 0.08 ng/mL. Under identical conditions, growth of erythroid precursors was half-maximally inhibited at a concentration of 0.125 ng/mL while myeloid growth was not inhibited at concentrations of TGF beta 1 up to 25 ng/mL. These profound inhibitory effects on megakaryocyte growth and endomitosis suggested that TGF beta might play a role in megakaryocytopoiesis. Therefore, we explored the effect of TGF beta in three different experimental situations by using a neutralizing antibody to TGF beta: (1) Serum but not plasma was found to inhibit the number and ploidy of megakaryocytes that grew in vitro. This inhibitory activity was completely neutralized by antibody to TGF beta or on treatment with dithiothreitol. (2) Plasma from thrombocytotic rats was observed to decrease megakaryocyte ploidy on culture but this effect was not prevented by the addition of antibody to TGF beta. (3) Plasma from thrombocytopenic but not normal rats increased megakaryocyte ploidy on culture. Addition of antibody to TGF beta did not alter these results. Therefore, TGF beta is a potent inhibitor of the number and ploidy of megakaryocytes and accounts for all the inhibition seen when megakaryocytes are cultured in serum. However, the differences in effect on megakaryocyte growth that we observe between normal, thrombocytopenic, and thrombocytotic plasmas are not due to variations in the amount of TGF beta. Furthermore, our results show that release of TGF beta from megakaryocytes during culture does not act as an autocrine regulator of megakaryocyte ploidy in vitro.

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