Open Access Research article

Expression pattern of the thrombopoietin receptor (Mpl) in the murine central nervous system

Anna Ivanova1, Jens Wuerfel2, Juan Zhang1, Olaf Hoffmann34, Matthias Ballmaier5 and Christof Dame1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neonatology, Charité - Universitätsmedizin, Germany

2 Institute of Neuroradiology, Universität Lübeck, Germany

3 Department of Experimental Neurology, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany

4 Department of Neurology, St. Josef Krankenhaus, Potsdam, Germany

5 Department of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Germany

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BMC Developmental Biology 2010, 10:77  doi:10.1186/1471-213X-10-77

Published: 28 July 2010



Thrombopoietin (Thpo) and its receptor (Mpl), which regulate megakaryopoiesis, are expressed in the central nervous system (CNS), where Thpo is thought to exert pro-apoptotic effects on newly generated neurons. Mpl expression has been analysed in brain tissue on transcript level and in cultured primary rat neurons and astrocytes on protein level. Herein, we analysed Mpl expression in the developing and adult murine CNS by immunohistochemistry and investigated the brain of mice with homozygous Mpl deficiency (Mpl-/-) by MRI.


Mpl was not detectable at developmental stages E12 to E15 in any resident cells of the CNS. From E18 onwards, robust Mpl expression was found in various brain areas, including cerebral cortex, olfactory bulb, thalamus, hypothalamus, medulla, pons, and the grey matter of spinal cord. However, major developmental changes became obvious: In the subventricular zone of the cerebral cortex Mpl expression occurred only during late gestation, while in the hippocampus Mpl expression was detectable for first time at stage P4. In the white matter of the cerebellum Mpl expression was restricted to the perinatal period. In the adult cerebellum, Mpl expression switched to Purkinje cell. The majority of other Mpl-positive cells were NeuN-positive neurons. None of the cells could be double-labelled with astrocyte marker GFAP. Mpl-/- mice showed no gross abnormalities of the brain.


Our data locate Mpl expression to neurons at different subdivisions of the spinal cord, rhombencephalon, midbrain and prosencephalon. Besides neuronal cells Mpl protein is also expressed in Purkinje cells of the adult cerebellum.