Purpose of review: Stem cells are an important tool for the study of ex-vivo models of megakaryopoiesis and the production of functional platelets. In this manuscript, we review the optimization of megakaryocyte and platelet differentiation and discuss the mechanistic studies and disease models that have incorporated stem cell technologies.
Recent findings: Mechanisms of cytoskeletal regulation and signal transduction have revealed insights into hierarchical dynamics of hematopoiesis, highlighting the close relationship between hematopoietic stem cells and cells of the megakaryocyte lineage. Platelet disorders have been successfully modeled and genetically corrected, and differentiation strategies have been optimized to the extent that utilizing stem cell-derived platelets for cellular therapy is feasible.
Summary: Studies that utilize stem cells for the efficient derivation of megakaryocytes and platelets have played a role in uncovering novel molecular mechanisms of megakaryopoiesis, modeling and correcting relevant diseases, and differentiating platelets that are functional and scalable for translation into the clinic. Efforts to derive megakaryocytes and platelets from pluripotent stem cells foster the opportunity of a revolutionary cellular therapy for the treatment of multiple platelet-associated diseases.