Thrombocytopenia is one of the major complications of liver cirrhosis. Except for hypersplenism associated with portal hypertension, it is not known which abnormalities of thrombopoiesis cause thrombocytopenia. To evaluate thrombopoiesis in liver cirrhosis, we analyzed thrombopoietin (TPO) and its receptor c-Mp1 levels in cirrhotic patients. Expression of c-Mp1 on platelets and the serum level of TPO were investigated from 38 patients with various stages of liver cirrhosis by flow-cytometric analysis and enzyme-immuno assay. Samples obtained from 22 individuals without evidence of liver disease were used as controls. Neither platelet counts nor TPO levels correlated with disease progression defined by the Child-Pugh classification. c-Mp1 was constitutively expressed on the platelets of cirrhotic patients, and its expression level was reduced with disease progression defined by the Child-Pugh classification. In this study, serum TPO did not fluctuate according to the grade of cirrhosis. However, its receptor c-Mp1, which is expressed on platelets, was decreased significantly in severely cirrhotic patients with thrombocytopenia. Thus, a correlation between reduced c-Mp1 expression and the progression of liver cirrhosis was demonstrated. We conclude that, in addition to hypersplenism, the reduced expression of c-Mp1 may play a significant role in the thrombocytopenia observed in severe liver cirrhosis.
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