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The paradox of platelet activation and impaired function: platelet-von Willebrand factor interactions, and the etiology of thrombotic and hemorrhagic manifestations in essential thrombocythemia and polycythemia vera

Jan J Michiels, Zwi Berneman, Wilfried Schroyens, Guido Finazzi, Ulrich Budde, Huub H D M van Vliet
Seminars in Thrombosis and Hemostasis 2006, 32 (6): 589-604
16977569
Patients with essential thrombocythemia (ET) and polycythemia vera (PV), complicated by microvascular ischemic or thrombotic events, have shortened platelet survival, increased beta-thromboglobulin, platelet factor 4, and thrombomodulin levels, and increased urinary thromboxane B2 excretion. These are all reversible by inhibition of platelet cyclooxygenase 1 with aspirin, and are therefore indicative of platelet activation and platelet-mediated thrombotic processes. The thrombotic tendency persists as long as platelet counts are above the upper limit of normal (400 x 10 (9)/L). Despite strong evidence of in vivo platelet activation, the ex vivo platelet function tests are impaired. Platelet dysfunction in ET and PV typically is characterized by a missing second-wave adrenaline aggregation, an increased adenosine diphosphate aggregation threshold, and reduced secretion products, but a normal arachidonic acid or collagen-induced aggregation. The proposed concept is that platelets in thrombocythemia (ET and PV) are hypersensitive. Due to the existing high shear stress in the microvasculature (end-arterial circulation), platelets spontaneously activate, secrete their products, form aggregates mediated by von Willebrand factor (vWF) that transiently plug the microcirculation, deaggregate, and then recirculate as exhausted defective platelets with secondary storage pool disease on ex vivo analysis. At increasing platelet counts from below to above 1000 x 10 (9)/L, the thrombotic condition changes into an overt spontaneous bleeding tendency as a result of a functional vWF deficiency that is caused by proteolysis of large vWF multimers. This is consistent with acquired type 2 von Willebrand syndrome (AvWS). AvWS is reversible by reduction of the platelet count to normal. The acquired JAK2 V617F gain of function mutation is the cause of trilinear myeloproliferative disease with the sequential occurrence of ET and PV. Heterozygous JAK2 V617F mutation with slightly increased kinase activity is enough for the induction of spontaneous megakaryopoiesis and erythropoiesis, and an increase of hypersensitive platelets is the cause of aspirin-sensitive, platelet-mediated microvascular ischemic and thrombotic complications in ET and early PV mimicking ET. Homozygous JAK2 mutation with pronounced increase of kinase activity is associated with pronounced trilinear megakaryocyte, erythroid, and granulocytic myeloproliferation, with the most frequent clinical picture of classical PV complicated by major thrombosis, in addition to the platelet-mediated microvascular thrombotic syndrome of thrombocythemia.

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