To determine the biologic activity of interleukin-6 (IL-6) on megakaryocytopoiesis and thrombocytopoiesis in vivo, the cytokine was administered intraperitoneally to mice every 12 hours at varying doses for five days or for varying time intervals, based on the kinetic analysis of IL-6 serum levels indicating the peak of 40 minutes following injection, with no detection at 150 minutes. A dose-response experiment showed that IL-6 increased platelet counts in a dose- dependent fashion at a plateau stimulation level of 5 micrograms. Administration of 5 micrograms of IL-6 reproducibly elevated platelet counts at five days by approximately 50% to 60% of increase. Moreover, a striking increase in megakaryocytic size in response to IL-6 was elicited by the treatment, but no change in megakaryocyte numbers; whereas IL-6 administration did not expand CFU-MK numbers. The in vivo studies in this manner had negligible effects on other hematologic parameters, with the minor exception of monocyte levels. These data show that IL-6 acts on maturational stages in megakaryocytopoiesis and promotes platelet production in vivo in mice, suggesting that IL-6 functions as thrombopoietin.

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