Scientific Interest

Platelet-mediated thrombosis is a primary underlying mechanism leading to cardiovascular life-threatening clinical events. Control of excessive platelet responses is an essential aspect of antithrombotic therapy. Antiplatelet agents have proven to be effective in the prevention of myocardial infarction, ischemic stroke and subsequent complications. Platelets are inhibited by many drugs: aspirin, ticlopidine, clopidogrel, Reopro (TM) and many others. However, clinicians feel that more effective and safer drugs are required. New compounds and therapeutic targets are currently under research taking advantage of genomics and proteomics technologies.

Bleeding disorders can result from defects in the blood vessels or from abnormalities in blood clotting factors or in platelets. Deficiencies of platelets that lead to hemorrhagic episodes can be quanti- or qualitative. Among the latter, both congenital and acquired syndromes such as von Willebrand disease, Bernard-Soulier syndrome, Glanzmann thrombasthenia, other membrane receptor defects, storage pool disease, aspirin-like defects, myeloproliferative disorders, liver disease, and uremia have been defined.

Many hemorrhagic episodes can be prevented or controlled with platelet transfusions. The increasing demand of platelet transfusions generates occasional shortness of supply at Blood Bank Centers. Therefore, the possibility of developing platelet preparations or synthetic substitutes which could be stored for longer periods while maintaining low risk of biological contamination is highly desirable.

Micrografs showing platelet interaction or fibrin deposition on a damaged vascular surface. Cross sections were produced from vascular segments exposed to blood in annular perfusion chamber. Upper left: healthy donor; middle left: Glanzmann thrombasthenia patient; lower left: Bernard-Soulier syndrome patient; upper right: severe thrombopenic patient; middle right: thrombopenic blood containing platelet membrane phospholipids; lower right: thrombopenic blood containig lyophylized platelets (x400). Click on pictures to enlarge.

The short movie illustrates the possibilities of confocal microscopy to discern and quantify platelet (green) and fibrin (red) in a microfluidic setting

(Pictures are courtesy of Drs. M.R. Hernández and A.M Galán. For image uses, please see Use of Content at Legal Information).


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