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Stem Cells. 1997;15(1):33-42.

Mpl ligand (MGDF) alone and in combination with stem cell factor (SCF) promotes proliferation and survival of human megakaryocyte, erythroid and granulocyte/macrophage progenitors.

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The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Victoria, Australia.


We examined cytokine-stimulated proliferation and survival of human megakaryocyte progenitor cells. We used a reliable, immunoenzymatic method of labeling CD41a-, CD42b-stained megakaryocytes in intact agar cultures to specifically identify and enumerate all megakaryocyte-containing colonies. We examined a previously defined population of cells enriched for megakaryocyte progenitors that coexpress CD34 and the megakaryocyte/platelet marker CD61. These CD34+61+ cells displayed clonogenicity of approximately 30% and contained myeloid, erythroid and megakaryocyte progenitor cells. With single CD34+61+ cells, megakaryocyte growth and development factor ([MGDF], also known as mpl-ligand or thrombopoietin) stimulated 9% of cells to complete their first cell division by day 2 (versus 21% with stem cell factor [SCF], or 13% with interleukin 3 alone). MGDF showed an additive effect with SCF and interleukin 3 to increase this number at least twofold. In purified CD34+61+ cells, MGDF stimulated the survival of megakaryocyte-colony forming cells (CFC) when addition of other proliferative factors was delayed for 5, 10 and 15 days (all p < 0.0001 versus saline control). MGDF also promoted survival of BFU-E and granulocyte-macrophage-CFC for at least 10 days (p < or = 0.0013 and p < or = 0.0362, respectively). SCF alone prolonged survival of CD34+61+ progenitor cells, however, MGDF + SCF was significantly more active. Whereas the action of MGDF on megakaryocyte-CFC was evident both in stimulating proliferation and survival, its ability to promote survival was between two- and fivefold greater than its action to stimulate proliferation. Thus MGDF alone, and in combination with SCF, was active in promoting the survival and proliferation of human progenitor cells of multiple hemopoietic lineages.

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