Previous work showed that treatment of irradiated mice with a thrombocytopoiesis-stimulating factor (TSF or thrombopoietin) decreased the degree and duration of thrombocytopenia in the period after irradiation. In an attempt to elucidate the radioprotective effects of TSF, femoral megakaryocyte sizes and numbers were measured in mice treated with 3.0 Gy of137 Cs γ rays and TSF. For controls, other irradiated mice were given human serum albumin (HSA), the carrier protein for TSF, rabbit antimouse platelet serum (RAMPS), or normal rabbit serum (NRS); megakaryocyte sizes and numbers were studied on Days 7-14. The results showed that irradiated, TSF-treated mice had significantly larger megakaryocytes on all days assessed compared to HSA-treated control mice. Likewise, RAMPS-treated mice had significantly larger megakaryocytes 14 days after irradiation compared to NRS-treated mice. Megakaryocyte numbers were significantly depressed in TSF-treated mice on Days 7-10 and 14 and on Day 10 in RAMPS-treated mice, compared to their respective controls. Therefore, irradiated mice treated with TSF yielded results similar to RAMPS-treated mice. Megakaryocyte sizes and numbers were also determined for mice treated with 40,000 U/mouse of interleukin-6 (IL-6), 227 U/mouse of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), or a combination of both cytokines; bovine serum albumin (BSA) was used as a control for these cytokine treatments. Unlike TSF treatment, GM-CSF significantly increased megakaryocyte numbers on both Days 10 and 14; the combination of both growth factors also increased megakaryocyte numbers on Day 14 compared to BSA-treated control mice. However, megakaryocyte size was decreased in GM-CSF-treated mice and in mice treated with both growth factors on Day 10. High levels of IL-6 failed to affect megakaryocyte size or number significantly on any day evaluated. The data of the present report, showing that TSF significantly increases megakaryocyte sizes and platelet counts of sublethally irradiated mice, indicate that thrombopoietin will be useful in treating patients undergoing bone marrow transplantation and/or patients with platelet production problems.

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