Regulation of platelet production and function by megakaryocyte growth and development factor in nonhuman primates

Laurence A. Harker, Pamela Hunt, Ulla M. Marzec, Andrew B. Kelly, Aaron Tomer, Stephen R. Hanson, Richard B. Stead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


The primary physiologic regulator of platelet production, Mpl ligand, has recently been cloned and characterized. To define the regulatory role of Mpl ligand on platelet production and function we measured the effects of a recombinant truncated human Mpl ligand, megakaryocyte growth and development factor (rHu-MGDF) on megakaryocytopoiesis, platelet function, and thrombogenesis in nonhuman primates. rHu-MGDF was administered to 10 baboons for 28 days while performing pharmacokinetics and repeated measurements of the following: (1) platelet count, volume, turnover, and function ex vivo and in vitro; (2) marrow megakaryocyte number, volume, and ploidy; and (3) platelet deposition and fibrin accumulation on segments of vascular graft and endarterectomized aorta in vivo. Daily subcutaneous injections of rHu-MGDF (5 μg/kg/d) attained plasma concentrations averaging 1,300 ± 300 pg/mL 2 hours after injection with trough levels of 300 ± 65 pg/mL before the next dose. These levels of rHu-MGDF incrementally increased the peripheral platelet concentration threefold by day 7 and fivefold by day 28 (P < 10-4) associated with a reciprocal decrease of 25% in mean platelet volumes (P < 10-3). Platelet mass turnover, a steady-state measure of platelet production, increased fivefold (P < 10-4). Platelet morphology, life span, and recovery were normal. No significant change occurred in peripheral leukocyte, neutrophil, or erythrocyte counts (P > .1 in all cases). The platelet count gradually returned to baseline within 2 weeks after discontinuing rHu-MGDF injections. Marrow megakaryocyte volume doubled (P < 10-3) three days after initiating rHu-MGDF therapy and the modal ploidy shifted from 16N to 64N (P < 10-4). Marrow megakaryocyte number increased twofold by day 7, and nearly fourfold by day 28 (P < 10-4), resulting in a 6.5-fold increase in marrow megakaryocyte mass (P < 10-3). The effects of rHu-MGDF on thrombosis were determined by comparing baseline, day 5, and day 28 rHu-MGDF-treatment measurements of 111In-platelet deposition and 125I-fibrin accumulation on segments of homologous endarterectomized aorta (EA) and vascular graft (VG) interposed in arteriovenous femoral shunts. rHu- MGDF increased 111In-platelet deposition in direct proportion to the circulating concentration of platelets for both EA and VG (r = .98 in both cases), without significant changes in fibrin accumulation (P > .5 in both cases). During the first week of rHu-MGDF treatment ex vivo platelet aggregatory responsiveness was enhanced to physiologic agonists (adenosine diphosphate, collagen, and thrombin receptor agonist peptide, TRAP(1-s)) (P < .05 in all cases). Although in vitro platelet aggregation was not induced by any concentration of rHu-MGDF tested (P > .5), rHu-MGDF enhanced aggregatory responses to low doses of physiologic agonists, effects that were maximal at 10 ng/mL for baboon platelets and 100 ng/mL for human platelets, and were blocked by excess soluble c-Mpl receptor. Flow cytometric expression of platelet activation epitopes was not increased on resting platelets (ligand- induced binding sites, P-selectin, or Annexin V binding sites; P > .1 in all cases). Megakaryocyte growth and development factor regulates platelet production and function by stimulating endoreduplication and megakaryocyte formation from marrow progenitor cells, and transiently enhancing platelet functional responses ex vivo. rHu-MGDF has the potential for achieving platelet hemostatic protection with minimal thrombo-occlusive risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1833-1844
Number of pages12
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Mar 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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