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Blood. 1997 Dec 1;90(11):4369-83.

High thrombopoietin production by hematopoietic cells induces a fatal myeloproliferative syndrome in mice.

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  • 1INSERM U362, Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France, Service d'Anatomopathologie, Hôpital Cochin, Paris, France.


To evaluate the effects of long-term, high-dose exposure to thrombopoietin (TPO), lethally irradiated mice were grafted with bone marrow cells infected with a retrovirus carrying the murine TPO cDNA. Mice were studied for 10 months after transplantation. In plasma, TPO levels were highly elevated (10(4) U/mL) throughout the course of the study. All mice developed a lethal myeloproliferative disorder evolving in two successive phases. During the first phase (7-9 weeks posttransplant), platelet and white blood cell (WBC) counts rose four- and ten-fold, respectively, whereas hematocrits decreased slightly to 29% +/- 3%. The WBC were mainly mature granulocytes, but myeloid precursor cells were invariably observed as well as giant platelets with an irregular granule distribution. The striking features were a massive hyperplasia of megakaryocytes and granulocytes in the spleen and bone marrow and a hypoplasia of erythroblasts in bone marrow. Total numbers of megakaryocyte colony-forming cell, burst-forming unit-erythroid, and granulocyte macrophage colony-forming cells were increased but colony-forming unit-erythroid numbers decreased. From 10 weeks posttransplant and thereafter, WBC, platelets, and red blood cell numbers declined dramatically. The absolute numbers of progenitor cells were very low in the spleen and bone marrow, but sharply increased in the blood and peritoneal cavity. Extramedullary hematopoiesis was observed in several organs. Histologic sections of the spleen and bones revealed severe fibrosis and osteosclerosis. The mean survival time was 7 months posttransplant and mice died with severe pancytopenia. Notably, two mice died between 3 and 4 months posttransplant with a leukemic transformation. This disorder was transplantable into secondary recipients who developed an attenuated form of the disease similar to the one previously described (Yan et al, Blood 86:4025, 1995). Taken together, our data show that high and persistent TPO production by transduced hematopoietic cells in mice results in a fatal myeloproliferative disorder that has a number of features in common with human idiopathic myelofibrosis.

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