The regulation of megakaryocytopoiesis and thrombopoiesis appears to be under the control of an array of hematopoietic growth factors. To determine the relationship between endogenous cytokine levels and circulating platelet counts, we measured the serum levels of both thrombopoietic and inflammatory cytokines in the peripheral blood and bone marrow samples from 70 patients with clonal thrombocytosis (CT) caused by myeloproliferative disorders, 28 patients with reactive thrombocytosis (RT), and 35 normal control subjects. The levels of thrombopoietin (TPO), interleukin-6 (IL-6), soluble IL-6 (sIL-6) receptor, IL-11, stem cell factor (SCF), IL-3, and IL-8 were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Platelet counts were significantly higher in both CT and patients with RT (699+/-399x10(9)/L, P<.001; 642+/-200 x 10(9)/L, P<.001; respectively) as compared with the normal control subjects (240+/-47x10(9)/L). The concentrations of cytokines in the bone marrow correlated well with those in the peripheral blood. The endogenous levels of TPO, IL-6, and sIL-6 receptor were significantly higher in both CT and patients with RT than those in normal control subjects. The median level of IL-6 was significantly higher in patients with RT than in patients with CT (40 pg/mL vs. 5 pg/mL; P<.001); however, there was no detectable difference in TPO and sIL-6 receptor levels between the two groups. Significantly higher levels of SCF and IL-8 were also found in patients with CT as compared with those found in normal control subjects (median 2460 pg/mL vs 1995 pg/mL, P<.05; 20 ng/mL vs. 5 ng/mL, P = .001; respectively). Finally, IL-11 and IL-3 levels were undetectable in most patients with thrombocytosis. Our results reveal that the endogenous levels of TPO, IL-6, sIL-6 receptor, IL-8, and SCF are elevated in patients with CT or RT. These cytokines appear to be active mediators involved in the regulation of thrombopoiesis during clonal and reactive thrombocytosis.