The role of platelets in the recruitment of leukocytes during vascular disease

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Besides their role in the formation of thrombus during haemostasis, it is becoming clear that platelets contribute to a number of other processes within the vasculature. Indeed, the integrated function of the thrombotic and inflammatory systems, which results in platelet-mediated recruitment of leukocytes, is now considered to be of great importance in the propagation, progression and pathogenesis of atherosclerotic disease of the arteries. There are three scenarios by which platelets can interact with leukocytes: (1) during haemostasis, when platelets adhere to and are activated on sub-endothelial matrix proteins exposed by vascular damage and then recruit leukocytes to a growing thrombus. (2) Platelets adhere to and are activated on stimulated endothelial cells and then bridge blood borne leukocytes to the vessel wall and. (3) Adhesion between platelets and leukocytes occurs in the blood leading to formation of heterotypic aggregates prior to contact with endothelial cells. In the following review we will not discuss leukocyte recruitment during haemostasis, as this represents a physiological response to tissue trauma that can progress, at least in its early stages, in the absence of inflammation. Rather we will deal with scenarios 2 and 3, as these pathways of platelet-leukocyte interactions are important during inflammation and in chronic inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis. Indeed, these interactions mean that leukocytes possess means of adhesion to the vessel wall under conditions that may not normally be permissive of leukocyte-endothelial cell adhesion, meaning that the disease process may be able to bypass the regulatory pathways which would ordinarily moderate the inflammatory response.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-20
Number of pages14
Issue number6
Early online date21 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Adhesion, inflammation, leukocytes, platelets, vascular disease