von Willebrand factor (VWF) is an essential mediator of platelet adhesion to the vessel wall, but little is known about its role in megakaryocytopoiesis. VWF and its platelet receptor, glycoprotein Ibα (GPIbα), are both expressed during megakaryocyte (MK) maturation. This study was designed to evaluate whether the enhanced VWF-GPIbα interactions typical of patients with von Willebrand disease type 2B (VWD2B) modify platelet production. Platelets from 9 patients with VWD2B with 7 different gain-of-function mutations were examined by electron microscopy (EM) and immunofluorescence labeling. For the patients with VWD2B, EM characteristically showed variable numbers of structurally abnormal giant platelets, sometimes in agglutinates. Cultures of MKs from controls performed with or without purified VWF confirmed a positive influence of VWF on platelet production with specific inhibition by an antibody blocking VWF binding to GPIbα. VWD2B MK cultures examined by EM showed a disorganized demarcation membrane system and abnormal granule distribution. They produced platelets with structural abnormalities typical of VWD2B. Confocal examination of MK revealed limited extension of pseudopods with few large proplatelets. These results confirm that megakaryocytopoiesis is modified by the enhanced VWF-GPIbα interactions. These data obtained for controls and patients with VWD2B suggest a novel regulatory role of VWF-GPIbα interactions in platelet production.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology