Can This Microfluidic Model for Blood Platelet Synthesis Solve the Problem of Platelet Transfusion?


PSL Research University, Paris, FranceResearchers from PSL Research University, France designed a microfluidic model of platelet-generating organ for the rapid production of blood platelets in vitro from cultured megakaryocytes (MKs).

Blood platelets are the smallest among the three types of blood cells- red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs) and platelets. The normal platelet count of a body is 150,000-350,000/microlitre of blood. Platelets are produced in the bone marrow from large bone marrow cells called megakaryocytes whose production is controlled by the hormone thrombopoietin. The chief function of the platelets is to avoid bleeding. The patients suffering from thrombocytopenia (insufficient platelet counts) needs platelet transfusions. Some of the major drawbacks which this therapy suffers are lack of donors, contamination risks, immunogenicity, high collection costs and storage problems. Artificial platelets cannot help in the therapeutic approaches. 

Mathilde Reyssat and team utilized a microfluidic device consisting of a wide array of Von Willebrand Factor (VWF)-coated micropillars. The micropillars trapped the megakaryocytes and subjected them to hydrodynamic shear which synergistically elongated the megakaryocytes leading to the formation and release of platelets and proplatelets.

The device showed high output of millions per hour and higher efficiency than biomimetic membrane-based bioreactors. Biological characterization of platelets produced in such a huge amount indicated the well functionality of the platelets produced by the device.

Microfluidic Model for Blood Platelet Synthesis

MKs were perfused through 3D micropillar forest at a shear rate of >1800 s−1 at the walls where the MKs got attached gradually at the pillars and started elongating followed by the release of platelets.

After the attachment to the pillars the rupture generally started after about 20 minutes.The length of the elongated MKs could be several millimetres. Platelets were characterized by flow cytometry analysis for morphology and then according to FSC (Forward Scatter) and SSC (Side Scatter) parameters of blood platelets.

This video present the microfluidic model of the platelet-generating organ (Courtesy: KeSimpulan)

This research was published as Blin A et al. Microfluidic model of the platelet-generating organ: beyond bone marrow biomimetics. Sci Rep. 2016, 21700. doi: 10.1038/srep21700.

Featured image credit: Blood cells © zeber (Stock Photo ID: 90818021)

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