Math predicts size of clot-forming cells

May 25, 2012

UC Davis mathematicians have helped biologists figure out why platelets, the cells that form blood clots, are the size and shape that they are. Because platelets are important both for healing wounds and in strokes and other conditions, a better understanding of how they form and behave could have wide implications.

"Platelet size has to be very specific for blood clotting," said Alex Mogilner, professor of mathematics, and neurobiology, physiology and behavior at UC Davis and a co-author of the paper, published this week in the journal Nature Communications. "It's a longstanding puzzle in platelet formation, and this is the first quantitative solution."

Mogilner and UC Davis postdoctoral scholars Jie Zhu and Kun-Chun Lee developed a of the forces inside the cells that turn into platelets, accurately predicting their final size and shape.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
This animation from a computer model shows how forces from proteins in the larger pre-platelet form the barbell-shaped pro-platelet. Proplatelets form platelets of the correct size and shape. Credit: Alex Mogilner, UC Davis

They were collaborating with a team led by Joseph Italiano and Jonathon Thon at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston.

Platelets are made by called megakaryocytes. They bud off first as large, circular pre-platelets, form into a dumbbell-shaped pro-platelet, then finally divide into a standard-sized, disc-shaped platelet. A typical person has about a trillion platelets in circulation at a time, and makes about 100 billion new platelets a day, each living for 8 to 10 days.

Inside the pre- and pro-platelets is a ring of protein microtubules, which exerts pressure to straighten and broaden the nascent cells. But overlying the ring is a rigid cortex of proteins that prevents the platelets from expanding.

By tweaking the number of in the bundles, Mogilner, Zhu and Lee found that they could correctly predict how pro-platelets would flip into a dumbbell shape, as well as the size and shape of mature platelets.

Explore further: Hyperbolic homogeneous polynomials, oh my!

Related Stories

Method for manufacturing patient-specific human platelets

Nov 22, 2010

Skin cells from humans can be revamped into pro-clotting cells called platelets, according to a study published on November 22 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. Patients with diseases causing thrombocytopenia—platelet defici ...

Recommended for you

Math modeling handbook now available

1 hour ago

Math comes in handy for answering questions about a variety of topics, from calculating the cost-effectiveness of fuel sources and determining the best regions to build high-speed rail to predicting the spread ...

Archaeologists, tribe clash over Native remains

2 hours ago

Archaeologists and Native Americans are clashing over Indian remains and artifacts that were excavated during a construction project in the San Francisco Bay Area, but then reburied at an undisclosed location.

Male-biased tweeting

4 hours ago

Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far ...

Developing nations ride a motorcycle boom

5 hours ago

Asia's rapidly developing economies should prepare for a full-throttle increase in motorcycle numbers as average incomes increase, a new study from The Australian National University has found.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Male-biased tweeting

Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far ...

Archaeologists, tribe clash over Native remains

Archaeologists and Native Americans are clashing over Indian remains and artifacts that were excavated during a construction project in the San Francisco Bay Area, but then reburied at an undisclosed location.