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Blood. 1995 Aug 15;86(4):1331-8.

Modulation of megakaryocytopoiesis by thrombopoietin: the c-Mpl ligand.

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  • 1Division of Hematology/Oncology, New England Deaconess Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


We have further characterized the biological activities, mechanism of action, and target cell populations of recombinant human and murine thrombopoietin (rhTPO and rmTPO) in in vitro human and murine model systems. Alone, hTPO or mTPO stimulated the maturation of immature murine megakaryoblasts as measured in a single cell assay. The combination of hTPO or mTPO and interleukin-6 (IL-6) resulted in a further increase in megakaryocyte differentiation in this system. Murine TPO stimulated mouse megakaryocyte progenitor development. Human megakaryocyte progenitor development was potentiated by hTPO alone and further augmented in the presence of the early-acting cytokines (IL-3) or kit ligand/stem cell factor (KL/SCF). To further define the mechanism of action of TPO, neutralization studies were performed with antisera to IL-3, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), IL-1 beta, and IL-11. No diminution in TPO activity was observed in the presence of these antisera. Moreover, because adhesive interactions are known to modulate hematopoiesis, we studied whether hTPO might alter such interactions between human bone marrow (BM) megakaryocytes and human BM stromal fibroblasts. No changes were observed in either megakaryocyte expression of the surface molecules lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1, very late activation antigen-4, or intercellular adhesion molecule-1 or the adhesion of megakaryocytes to stromal fibroblasts after treatment with the growth factor. Furthermore, no induction of secretion of the cytokines IL-1 alpha, IL-1 beta, GM-CSF, IL-6, granulocyte-CSF, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, transforming growth factor-beta 1, or transforming growth factor-beta 2 by primary human BM megakaryocytes was noted after treatment of the cells with hTPO. To address whether TPO affects very primitive hematopoietic progenitors, we studied the residual cells from the BMs of mice treated with high doses of 5-fluorouracil. Although no effect of mTPO alone was noted on the viability or replication of such primitive murine progenitor populations, the triple combination of IL-3 + KL/SCF + TPO stimulated growth of megakaryocyte progenitors. These results indicate that TPO is a highly lineage-specific growth factor whose primary biological effects are likely to be direct modulation of the growth and maturation of committed megakaryocyte precursors and immature megakaryoblasts.

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