We have enriched for bovine megakaryocytes and identified a culture system that may provide an in vitro model for platelet formation. Mature megakaryocytes with an unusually high ploidy distribution were obtained after differential centrifugation and velocity sedimentation of bone marrow cells through gradients of bovine serum albumin (BSA). The cell membranes of isolated megakaryocytes and megakaryocytes in vivo stained with antisera to human platelets and human platelet membrane GPIIIa. The microenvironment of bovine megakaryocytes in vivo was investigated using antibodies to types I and IV collagen and laminin. In an attempt to duplicate the microenvironment in vitro, bovine megakaryocytes were cultured on a reconstituted basement membrane matrix (Matrigel). The cells adhered to the gel, extended radial lamellipodia, and occasionally formed lengthy pseudopodia. Ultrastructural examination of these cells showed widening and coalescence of the megakaryocyte demarcation membranes (DMS), and inclusion of platelet granules, thin filaments, and microtubules in the processes. Very few DMS vesicles were present distally in the processes. The culture of megakaryocytes on a reconstituted basement membrane may closely model the in vivo megakaryocyte microenvironment and allow the study of thrombocytopoiesis in vitro.

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