Lessons in platelet production from inherited thrombocytopenias

Alessandro Pecci, Carlo L. Balduini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our knowledge of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of platelet production has greatly expanded in recent years due to the opportunity to culture in vitro megakaryocytes and to create transgenic animals with specific genetic defects that interfere with platelet biogenesis. However, in vitro models do not reproduce the complexity of the bone marrow microenvironment where megakaryopoiesis takes place, and experience shows that what is seen in animals does not always happen in humans. So, these experimental models tell us what might happen in humans, but does not assure us that these events really occur. In contrast, inherited thrombocytopenias offer the unique opportunity to verify in humans the actual effects of abnormalities in specific molecules on platelet production. There are currently 20 genes whose defects are known to result in thrombocytopenia and, on this basis, this review tries to outline a model of megakaryopoiesis based on firm evidence. Inherited thrombocytopenias have not yet yielded all the information they can provide, because nearly half of patients have forms that do not fit with any known disorder. So, further investigation of inherited thrombocytopenias will advance not only the knowledge of human illnesses, but also our understanding of human platelet production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-192
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Haematology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Bleeding disorders
  • Genetic disorders
  • Inherited thrombocytopenias
  • Megakaryopoiesis
  • Platelets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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