Pluripotent stem cells reveal the developmental biology of human megakaryocytes and provide a source of platelets for clinical application

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2012 Oct;69(20):3419-28. doi: 10.1007/s00018-012-0995-4. Epub 2012 Apr 24.


Human pluripotent stem cells [PSCs; including human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)] can infinitely proliferate in vitro and are easily accessible for gene manipulation. Megakaryocytes (MKs) and platelets can be created from human ESCs and iPSCs in vitro and represent a potential source of blood cells for transfusion and a promising tool for studying the human thrombopoiesis. Moreover, disease-specific iPSCs are a powerful tool for elucidating the pathogenesis of hematological diseases and for drug screening. In that context, we and other groups have developed in vitro MK and platelet differentiation systems from human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs). Combining this co-culture system with a drug-inducible gene expression system enabled us to clarify the novel role played by c-MYC during human thrombopoiesis. In the next decade, technical advances (e.g., high-throughput genomic sequencing) will likely enable the identification of numerous gene mutations associated with abnormal thrombopoiesis. Combined with such technology, an in vitro system for differentiating human PSCs into MKs and platelets could provide a novel platform for studying human gene function associated with thrombopoiesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Platelets / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Developmental Biology*
  • Humans
  • Megakaryocytes / cytology*
  • Megakaryocytes / metabolism
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism