Hematopoietic processes, especially megakaryocytopoiesis and thrombopoiesis, are highly sensitive to high-linear energy transfer (LET) radiations such as heavy-ion beams that have greater biological effects than low-LET radiation. This study examined the terminal maturation of megakaryocytes and platelet production derived from hematopoietic stem cells irradiated with heavy-ion beams. CD34+ cells derived from human placental/umbilical cord blood were exposed to monoenergetic carbon-ion beams (LET  =  50 keV/µm) and then cultured in a serum-free medium supplemented with thrombopoietin and interleukin-3. There was no significant difference in megakaryocyte-specific markers between nonirradiated control and irradiated cells. Expression of Tie-2, a receptor that acts in early hematopoiesis, showed a significant 1.31-fold increase after 2 Gy irradiation compared to control cells on day 7. There was a significant increase in Tie-2 mRNA expression. In addition, the expression of other mRNAs, such as PECAM1, SELP and CD44, was also significantly increased in cells irradiated with heavy-ion beams. However, the adherent function of platelets derived from the irradiated cells showed no difference from that in the controls. These results clarify that the functions of megakaryocytopoiesis and thrombopoiesis derived from hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells irradiated with heavy-ion beams are similar to those in the unirradiated cells, although heavy-ion beams affect the expression of genes associated with cellular adhesion.

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