We have studied the effects of recombinant human thrombopoietin (TPO, mpl ligand) on the megakaryocyte colony formation from control human bone marrow cells, human leukemia cells at diagnosis, and human bone marrow cells after induction chemotherapy for acute leukemias. In the control human bone marrow cells from four adults and nine children who had localized malignancy and histologically normal-looking marrow, TPO alone effectively stimulated megakaryocyte colony formation, and interleukin-3 (IL-3) synergized this. In 17 patients (13 adults and four children) with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) at diagnosis, TPO stimulated leukemic colony formation in only one patient with FAB M7 subtype. In 11 children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at diagnosis, TPO did not enhance leukemic colony formation. After 17 courses of induction chemotherapy, nine for AML and eight for ALL, TPO stimulated megakaryocyte colony formation to a level of 51% of that in the control human bone marrow cells. This may suggest that the administration of TPO to patients with M7 subtype warrants caution, whereas it is probably safe to give TPO at any time to patients with ALL. The administration of TPO to patients with acute leukemias after induction chemotherapy could stimulate megakaryocytopoiesis.
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