Oklahoma researchers zero in on cause of blood disorder

"Scientists have long believed that in ITP, the body’s attacks on platelets originated mainly in the spleen mediated by autoantibodies, and in about 70 percent of ITP cases, immune suppression and removal of the spleen controls the condition. But in the remaining 30 percent of patients, symptoms persist.

In this new study, OMRF scientist Lijun Xia, M.D., Ph.D., who holds the Merrick Foundation Chair in Biomedical Research at OMRF and heads the foundation’s Cardiovascular Biology Research Program, and his team used an experimental model with platelets that carried an aberrant version of O-glycans, sugars that the body produces. Specialized cells in the liver quickly cleaned up these platelets as abnormal cells—resulting in a drop in platelet counts.

“Until now, the spleen has been considered the major site for platelet clearance,” said Xia. “But these glycans-deficient platelets exhibited a shorter lifespan and were being cleared from the liver instead.” "

- From omrf.org

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