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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2009 Nov;29(11):1874-82. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.109.193805. Epub 2009 Aug 6.

Foxp3 regulates megakaryopoiesis and platelet function.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Medicine, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.



Platelets are crucial for hemostasis and are vital regulators of inflammation. Foxp3 is a key transcription factor for T regulatory cell development. Humans with IPEX (immune dysregulation, polyendocrinopathy, enteropathy, x-linked) and the scurfy (Foxp3(sf)) mouse have mutations in the Foxp3 gene that lead to a host of pathologies including autoimmunity and skin diseases. Scurfy mice and some humans with IPEX are also thrombocytopenic. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the absence of functional Foxp3 leads to defects in megakaryocytes and platelets.


We discovered that human and mouse megakaryocytes express Foxp3 mRNA and protein. Using shRNA and Foxp3(sf) mice, we demonstrated that Foxp3-deficient mouse and human megakaryocyte progenitors exhibited proliferation defects. Striking platelet abnormalities were observed in both an IPEX patient and Foxp3(sf) mice. Impaired platelet spreading and release of TGF-beta and CD40 ligand (CD40L), and abnormal levels of plasma CD40L were observed in a case of IPEX syndrome. Foxp3(sf) mice were thrombocytopenic and had increased platelet volume and altered serum levels of CD40L, TXB(2), and TGF-beta.


These findings provide compelling new evidence that Foxp3 is needed for proper megakaryopoiesis and plays a role in regulating platelet function including spreading and release.

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