Higher pH Promotes Megakaryocytic Maturation and Apoptosis
H. Yang, W.M. Miller, E.T. Papoutsakis
Department of Chemical Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA

Key Words: Megakaryocytes· pH· Maturation· Apoptosis· High ploidy· zVAD

Correspondence: E.T. Papoutsakis, Ph.D., Department of Chemical Engineering, Northwestern University, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois 60208-3120, USA. Telephone: 847-491-7455; Fax: 847-491-3728; e-mail: e-paps@northwestern.edu

Megakaryocytic (Mk) cells mature adjacent to bone marrow (BM) sinus walls and subsequently release platelets within the sinusoidal space or in lung capillaries. In contrast, primitive stem and Mk progenitor cells reside the furthest away from the BM sinus walls. The existence of pH gradients in the BM raises the question of whether pH affects Mk maturation and differentiation. We generated Mk cells from peripheral blood CD34+ cells in a serum-free medium at different pH levels (7.2, 7.4, and 7.6) and found that higher pH resulted in an earlier and higher polyploidization of CD41+ Mk cells and an earlier onset of Mk-cell apoptosis. The peak day of high ploidy was correlated well with the onset day of Mk apoptosis, thus suggesting that a decline in the fraction of high-ploidy Mk cells at the late culture stage is caused by Mk-cell apoptosis. We further explored the relationship between Mk-cell maturation and apoptosis by employing an antiapoptotic agent Z-Val-Ala-Asp(Ome)-FMK (zVAD). Addition of zVAD led to an average 30% higher and 2.8-day delayed polyploidization, while apoptosis was delayed by 2.4 days. Faster depletion of CD34+ cells and an earlier peak in the fraction of larger colony-forming Mk cells (BFU-Mks) were also observed at higher pH. Taken together, these data suggest that higher pH promotes Mk-cell differentiation, maturation, and apoptosis.