Groundbreaking research shows platelets can reproduce in circulation

January 26, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY - University of Utah researchers led an international team of scientists that is the first to report on the previously undescribed ability of platelets to reproduce themselves in the circulation. Their revolutionary findings were published online Jan. 19, 2010, in the journal Blood.

Platelets develop from precursor cells found in the bone marrow, a process that is called thrombopoiesis. During the final stages of thrombopoiesis, platelets are shed from the cytoplasm of their precursors and then enter the bloodstream. Because they lack nuclei, circulating platelets are often referred to as "cytoplasts."

Because DNA resides in the nucleus, platelets were previously considered incapable of reproducing themselves. However, according to this new study led by Hansjörg Schwertz, M.D., and Andrew S. Weyrich, Ph.D., both of the U of U School of Medicine, platelets are actually capable of giving rise to new platelets.

"Cells with nuclei typically split into two uniform daughter cells that share identical genetic information," says Schwertz, research assistant professor of surgery and lead author of the study. "In our experiments, we found that platelets increase in number by generating beaded extensions that resemble a pearl necklace. Development of these extensions, which contain two or more new platelets, does not require a nucleus."

Schwertz and his colleagues found that the newly formed platelets are structurally and functionally indistinguishable from normal platelets and are similar in size, shape, and metabolic activity. Importantly, the group also demonstrated that platelets produce progeny in human whole blood cultures. This suggests that new treatments may be devised to increase circulating platelet numbers in patients whose platelet counts are abnormally low because of a medical condition.

Platelets are one of the most abundant cells in the bloodstream and their primary function is to halt bleeding. Decreased platelet counts can increase a person's risk for bleeding complications. Conversely, if platelet counts are too high or platelets inappropriately stick to one another, individuals may be at increased risk for vascular disorders such as heart attacks.

In additional studies conducted in cooperation with Robert C. Blaylock, M.D., medical director of transfusion services at the University of Utah and professor of pathology, the group found that platelets used for transfusion are also capable of generating new platelets, even after they are stored in bags for five days. This suggests that platelet numbers may be expanded after they are removed from the body, a finding that could have a significant impact on transfusion medicine.

"More research is needed to understand how platelets reproduce themselves and whether newly formed platelets are identical to, or distinct from, the platelets that are formed directly from their bone marrow precursors," says Weyrich, professor of internal and molecular medicine at the University of Utah's Eccles Institute of Human Genetics and corresponding author of the study. "Nevertheless, our findings identify a new function of platelets that has important bench-to-bedside implications."
-end-


University of Utah Health Sciences

Related Bone Marrow Articles from Brightsurf:

Researchers identify the mechanism behind bone marrow failure in Fanconi anaemia
Researchers at the University of Helsinki and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have identified the mechanism behind bone marrow failure developing in children that suffer from Fanconi anaemia.

Nanoparticles can turn off genes in bone marrow cells
Using specialized nanoparticles, MIT engineers have developed a way to turn off specific genes in cells of the bone marrow, which play an important role in producing blood cells.

How stress affects bone marrow
Researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) identified the protein CD86 as a novel marker of infection- and inflammation-induced hematopoietic responses.

3D atlas of the bone marrow -- in single cell resolution
Stem cells located in the bone marrow generate and control the production of blood and immune cells.

Dangerous bone marrow, organ transplant complication explained
Scientists have discovered the molecular mechanism behind how the common cytomegalovirus can wreak havoc on bone marrow and organ transplant patients, according to a paper published in the journal Cell & Host Microbe.

Viagra shows promise for use in bone marrow transplants
Researchers at UC Santa Cruz have demonstrated a new, rapid method to obtain donor stem cells for bone marrow transplants using a combination of Viagra and a second drug called Plerixafor.

Bone marrow may be the missing piece of the fertility puzzle
A woman's bone marrow may determine her ability to start and sustain a pregnancy, report Yale researchers in PLOS Biology.

Cells that make bone marrow also travel to the womb to help pregnancy
Bone marrow-derived cells play a role in changes to the mouse uterus before and during pregnancy, enabling implantation of the embryo and reducing pregnancy loss, according to research published Sept.

Uncovering secrets of bone marrow cells and how they differentiate
Researchers mapped distinct bone marrow niche populations and their differentiation paths for the bone marrow factory that starts from mesenchymal stromal cells and ends with three types of cells -- fat cells, bone-making cells and cartilage-making cells.

Zebrafish help researchers explore alternatives to bone marrow donation
UC San Diego researchers discover new role for epidermal growth factor receptor in blood stem cell development, a crucial key to being able to generate them in the laboratory, and circumvent the need for bone marrow donation.

Read More: Bone Marrow News and Bone Marrow Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.