SDF-1 dynamically mediates megakaryocyte niche occupancy and thrombopoiesis at steady-state and following radiation injury

Lisa M. Niswander, Katherine H. Fegan, Paul D. Kingsley, Kathleen E. McGrath and James Palis

Key points

  • SDF-1 acutely affects megakaryocyte spatial distribution in the bone marrow at steady state and in the setting of radiation injury.

  • SDF-1-directed localization of megakaryocytes into the vascular niche increases platelet output.


Megakaryocyte (MK) development in the bone marrow progresses spatially from the endosteal niche, which promotes MK progenitor proliferation, to the sinusoidal vascular niche, the site of terminal maturation and thrombopoiesis. The chemokine SDF-1, signaling through CXCR4, is implicated in the maturational chemotaxis of MKs toward sinusoidal vessels. Here, we demonstrate that both intravenous administration of SDF-1 and stabilization of endogenous SDF-1 acutely increase MK-vasculature association and thrombopoiesis with no change in MK number. In the setting of radiation injury, we find dynamic fluctuations in marrow SDF-1 distribution that spatially and temporally correlate with variations in MK niche occupancy. Stabilization of altered SDF-1 gradients directly affects MK location. Importantly, these SDF-1-mediated changes have functional consequences for platelet production, as the movement of MKs away from the vasculature decreases circulating platelets, while MK association with the vasculature increases circulating platelets. Finally, we demonstrate that manipulation of SDF-1 gradients can improve radiation-induced thrombocytopenia in a manner additive with earlier TPO treatment. Taken together, our data support the concept that SDF-1 regulates the spatial distribution of MKs in the marrow and consequently circulating platelet numbers. This knowledge of the microenvironmental regulation of the MK lineage could lead to improved therapeutic strategies for thrombocytopenia.

  • Submitted January 8, 2014.
  • Accepted April 3, 2014.