Platelets are a type of blood cell. They are important for blood clotting, or stopping bleeding. There are two main pathways that platelets can be produced in the body.
The mesoderm pathway produces several other cell types in addition to platelets. These include red and white blood cells, bone cells, and other cell types. The mesoderm is a group of embryonic tissues that develop into various structures and cells.
The second pathway is the megakaryocyte pathway. This is the process by which platelets are produced by megakaryocytes, which are a kind of bone marrow cell.
There has been recent research done on whether or not these two pathways share any steps to produce different formed elements in the body. This article will discuss this topic further.
Megakaryocytes create platelets along a pathway similar to erythrocytes
Megakaryocytes are the large cells that produce platelets. As with other cells, platelets originate in the megakaryocyte nucleus.
A special part of the megakaryocyte cytoplasm called the thrombocytoplasm determines how many platelets will be produced.
The thrombocytoplasm contains enzymes and proteins necessary to create a capsule around a cell and pull it apart to reveal a cell underneath, called a thrombus.
These cells are released into the blood stream where they help prevent blood clots. When a bleeding occurs, more platelets are created to help stop the bleeding by wrapping around the damaged blood vessel.
These two functions of platelets are important in keeping the body healthy.
Platelets are very small, only about 1/10 the size of a normal red blood cell
Platelets are a type of cell in our blood called a leukocyte. Leukocytes are white blood cells, responsible for immune function. Platelets are unique in that they do not exist in high numbers and have a limited life span.
Platelets form as part of the process to produce blood. Blood is a complex mixture of cellular components that transport vital substances and protect us from damage and infection.
Blood production occurs in several different compartments or zones of the body. The zone that produces platelets is called the megakaryocytic zone (MKZ). This is located in the middle of the bone marrow, where most other blood cell types are formed.
What part of the pathway to produce platelets is shared with other formed elements? Very little, if any! Unlike all other cells in our body, platelets do not have DNA inside of them.
Plasma contains many different proteins and factors that promote platelet formation
As mentioned before, platelets are formed in the bone marrow. The plasma membrane and cytoskeleton of a circulating cell are what is referred to as the bone marrow.
Several different types of cells are formed in the bone marrow, and they all have specific functions. These include red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
Red blood cells have their own function in transporting oxygen to tissue and organs. White blood cells help the body fight infection by attacking invaders like bacteria or viruses. Platelets have no function outside of forming clots to stop bleeding.
Platelets have an important function in hemostasis
Platelets are small cell fragments that play a role in blood clotting. Clotting is necessary to prevent excessive bleeding.
Platelets are special cells in the blood called megakaryocytes. Megakaryocytes produce platelets, so part of the pathway to produce platelets is shared with other formed elements.
How does this happen? How does a cell that will become a megakaryocyte begin to produce platelets? What triggers this change?
Researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have now uncovered important clues that may help answer these questions. Their findings appear in the journal Blood.
The researchers found that a protein called C/EBPα plays an important role in platelet production.
The formation of platelets is shared with the formation of erythrocytes
A part of the pathway that produces platelets is the production of erythrocytes. Erythrocytes, or red blood cells, are produced in the bone marrow.
Bone marrow is a soft, jelly-like substance inside the bones where cells and proteins are produced. New blood and immune system cells are formed here.
Red blood cells carry oxygen through the body via tiny holes in their membrane called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is what gives red blood cells their color.
Platelets are cell fragments that help stop bleeding by clumping together to form a plug over a hole in the membrane of a blood vessel. Platelets have a short life span, typically 8–10 days, before they die and are replaced by new platelets.
Platelets contain hemoglobin pigments, just like erythrocytes do
However, unlike erythrocytes, platelets do not have a nucleus. This is why they are called corpuscles.
Platelets are very important cells. They play a large role in blood clotting. Blood clotting is an essential part of the human body. It helps stop bleeding when you get a cut or injury, and it keeps you from losing too much blood over the long term.
Clotting also plays a role in immune system function. You might have heard of drugs that prevent blood clots, but only when you need them- they are used to treat medical conditions like heart disease and stroke.
Some disorders result in too many or too few platelets
A number of disorders can affect the number of platelets in the body. Some of these disorders result in too many platelets, while others result in too few.
Aplastic anemia is a disease that results in insufficient production of all blood cell types, including platelets. This is due to damage or destruction of the bone marrow where all blood cells are produced.
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is a disorder where antibodies attach to and damage the spleen, which is an important part of the platelet production process. The spleen helps remove old red blood cells from the body, so people with PNH have fewer red blood cells that last longer.
Iron deficiency anemia is a low concentration of iron in the body. Iron is needed to make new red blood cells and platelets, so people with iron deficiency anemia have fewer red blood cells and platelets.