Author(s): Cramer EM, Mass JM, Caen JP, Garcia I, BretonGorius J,
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Abstract Thrombin causes platelet activation and secretion. In some nucleated cells, it is mitogenic. In this study, we have investigated how human megakaryocytes (MKs) respond to this agonist and whether the response depends on the maturation stage. MKs were cultured from bone marrow precursors in liquid culture in the presence of normal plasma. To determine whether thrombin can activate MKs, 14-day MK cultures were incubated with thrombin for 5 minutes, and cells were studied by electron microscopy, either by standard techniques or after embedding in glycol-methacrylate for immunoelectron microscopy. Ultrastructural examination of thrombin-treated MKs revealed dramatic morphological changes reminiscent of those found in platelets, including shape change and organelle centralization that involved immature as well as mature cells. MKs were also able to secrete alpha-granule proteins in the dilated cisternae of the demarcation membrane system, as shown by immunogold staining for thrombospondin and glycoprotein Ib. These changes were rapid (less than 5 minutes) but despite them, MKs remained viable for more than 24 hours. To determine whether thrombin has a mitogenic activity, it was added to the culture of MKs from day 3 to day 10 of culture at concentrations varying from 0.1 to 10 U/ml. Cells were subsequently studied by a double staining technique using flow cytometry to determine MK number and ploidy. No changes were observed in these two parameters, showing that thrombin is not mitogenic for MKs at the concentrations used. In conclusion, this study confirms for human MKs previous observations made about guinea pig MKs (Fedorko et al, Lab Invest 1977, 36:32). In addition, it demonstrates that immature MKs are able to respond to thrombin and that more mature cells can secrete alpha-granule proteins into the demarcation membrane system, which is in continuity with the extracellular space. This phenomenon may have implications for pathological states such as myelofibrosis formation and for megakaryopoiesis autocrine regulation.
This article was published in Am J Pathol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Pharmacology