The use of electron microscopy in the investigation of the ultrastructural morphology of immune thrombocytopenic purpura platelets
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Ultrastructural studies have proven useful for the accurate identification and classification of certain lymphoid and hematopoietic disorders; however, the value of electron microscopy in the diagnosis and clinical management of platelet pathology is less well defined. Electron microscopy has been used to evaluate inherited platelet disorders. In these disorders, certain platelet structural defects can be characteristic. Recently, we investigated the ultrastructural morphology and immunogold localization of IgG in platelets from patients with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). The accelerated platelet destruction of ITP is mediated by antiplatelet autoantibodies directed against platelet surface glycoproteins and by the functional capacity of the reticuloendothelial system. The basic dysregulation that occurs in these patients remains unexplained. Traditionally, laboratory investigation of ITP has focused on the development of serologic assays to measure the autoantibodies. As an alternative investigative approach, determination of the immunomorphologic characteristics of platelet-associated IgG (PAIgG) in ITP platelets may prove useful in the diagnosis or clinical management of patients with ITP. Our results showed that the ultrastructural morphology of ITP platelets is similar to that observed for normal platelets. No structural abnormalities are observed in ITP platelets. Immunogold labeling of IgG within alpha-granules of ITP platelets is significantly higher than that of normal platelets. Additionally, in some ITP platelets, immunogold labeling is also observed on the platelet surface and within channels of the open-cannalicular system. In comparison, immunogold labeling of these structures in normal platelets, is rare, or absent. In conclusion, electron microscopic studies should contribute to furthering our understanding of this common autoimmune disorder, and may provide possible biological explanations for the increased levels of PAIgG in platelets from patients with ITP.
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