Background: Polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) from healthy subjects can produce and store tissue factor (TF), which is expressed on PMN surface upon in vitro stimulation with P-selectin.
Results: We report here that platelets and PMN from 12 patients with myeloproliferative disorders (MPD) (six with polycythemia vera, six with essential thrombocythemia) show up regulation of P-selectin and TF, respectively, in the absence of any in vitro challenge. The number of circulating mixed platelet-PMN aggregates was also increased. PMN TF expression as well as mixed platelet-PMN aggregates, but not platelet P-selectin, were significantly reduced in six MPD patients after treatment with hydroxyurea (HU). In vitro studies performed on PMN separated from healthy donors confirmed HU effects (0-1400 microm). HU prevented both P-selectin-induced TF expression and mixed cell aggregate formation. The inhibitory effect of HU was specific for P-selectin-induced PMN activation, as it did not affect formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine-induced PMN TF expression.
Conclusions: In MPD patients, platelet P-selectin-mediated TF expression on circulating PMN may play a role in thrombus formation and represents a novel target for the antithrombotic activity of HU.