Biological evolution has struggled to produce mechanisms that can limit blood loss following injury. In humans and other mammals, control of blood loss (hemostasis) is achieved through a combination of plasma proteins, most of which are made in the liver, and platelets, anucleate blood cells that are produced in the bone marrow by megakaryocytes. Much has been learned about the underlying mechanisms, but much remains to be determined. The articles in this series review current ideas about the production of megakaryocytes from undifferentiated hematopoietic precursors, the steps by which megakaryocytes produce platelets, and the molecular mechanisms within platelets that make hemostasis possible. The underlying theme that connects the articles is the intense investigation of a complex system that keeps humans from bleeding to death, but at the same time exposes us to increased risk of thrombosis and vascular disease.
Lawrence F. Brass