Differential mechanisms in the regulation of endogenous levels of thrombopoietin and interleukin-11 during thrombocytopenia: Insight into the regulation of platelet production
The regulation of megakaryocytopoiesis and thrombopoiesis appears to be under the control of an array of hematopoietic growth factors. To determine the relationship of endogenous thrombopoietic cytokine levels and circulating platelet (PLT) counts, we measured the levels of thrombo-poietin (TPO), interleukin-11 (IL-11), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in patients with significant thrombocytopenia secondary to both marrow hypoplasia and increased PLT destruction. Increased endogenous levels of TPO and IL-11, but not IL-6, were detected in bone marrow transplant patients with thrombocytopenia following myeloablative therapy (BMT/MAT) (TPO: 1,455.5 +/- 87.3 pg/mL, [PLT 39,600 +/- 7,800/microL], P < .001, n = 12; IL-11: 227.9 +/- 35 pg/mL, [PLT 32,900 +/- 57,000/microL], P < .05, n = 19; IL-6: 25.8 +/- 8.4 pg/mL, [PLT 32,800 +/- 5,057/microL], P > .05, n = 4] v normal donors [TPO < 150 pg/mL, n = 8; IL-11 < 50 pg/mL, n = 9; IL-6 < 10 pg/mL, n = 5 [PLT 203,000 +/- 7,500/microL]. There was a significant inverse correlation between endogenous levels of TPO and IL-11, but not IL-6, and PLT counts in the MAT/BMT patients (TPO: r = -0.57, P < .0001, n = 188; IL-11: r = -0.329, P < .0001, n = 249; IL-6: r = -0.1147, P > .05, n = 62). In patients with immune thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP), with decreased PLT survival, but intact bone marrow megakaryocytopoiesis, endogenous IL-11 levels were significantly increased (328.0 +/- 92.6 pg/mL, [PLT: 20,900 +/- 3,000/microL], P < .05, n = 25). However, endogenous TPO levels remained undetectable (< 150 pg/mL, [PLT 30,500 +/- 5,500/microL], n = 15). These results suggest that there may be differential mechanisms regulating endogenous TPO, IL-11, and IL-6 levels during acute thrombocytopenia and suggest that the absolute number of circulating PLTs may not always be the sole regulator of endogenous TPO levels. Other mpl-expressing cells of the megakaryocyte lineage may contribute to the regulation of circulating TPO levels as well. Our results also suggest IL-11 levels may in part, be regulated by a negative feedback loop based on circulating PLT counts, but also may, in part, be regulated by a variety of inflammatory agonists. Both TPO and IL-11, therefore, appear to be active thrombopoietic cytokines regulating, in part, megakaryocytopoiesis during states of acute thrombocytopenia.