Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists discover novel functions of platelets

A new finding could lead to novel treatments to reduce bleeding in trauma and severe infections.

The research, from Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientists Lijun Xia, M.D., Ph.D., Jianxin Fu, M.D., Ph.D., and Brett Herzog, Ph.D., appears in the most recent issue of the journal Nature.

One way the immune system keeps a body healthy is through immune surveillance. Lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, constantly exit the bloodstream and "check in" at the lymph nodes to learn about possible pathogens or abnormal cell growth. The function prepares the immune system to fight infections and dispose of pre-cancerous cells.

For years, scientists have wondered how lymphocytes exit the bloodstream at a large volume without causing bleeding. Xia and his team of researchers found that platelets, which normally stop blood loss by clumping and forming plugs in blood vessel holes after injuries, activate a screening process. And this process allows lymphocytes to exit into lymph nodes without letting red blood cells leave the blood vessel.

"Platelets are the smallest blood cells that work in clotting to heal cuts because they stick to the site of the injury," said Xia, a member of OMRF's Cardiovascular Biology Research Program. "This novel function requires platelets to dump a specific lipid content, but does not need intact platelets because it's not forming a clot. We never knew they could do this before."

Not only are platelets making it possible for lymphocytes to leave the blood vessel, they're doing so by going outside the vessel, themselves—another novel finding, he said.

When scientists interrupted the process by removing a protein called podoplanin, the screening process stopped working, allowing both lymphocytes and red blood cells to escape. The new study reveals a novel function of platelets independent of their hemostatic role. The findings could alter the ways in which doctors use platelets to treat traumatic injuries and serious infections.

Intact platelets that can clot usually only last 5 to 7 days in the blood and cannot be frozen, making storage a problem, Xia said. Since these new functions do not rely on intact platelets, it points to different uses for platelets, perhaps even some that have been frozen. If it works out, the discovery could be useful in stopping widespread internal bleeding caused by explosive traumas or severe infections.

"As the research continues, I think there's a possibility this will lead to new therapeutics that could slow or stop hemorrhaging in trauma and sepsis-related illnesses," Xia said.

The breakthrough has opened several avenues for further research, he said. One will be a better understanding of how platelets go outside the vessels to start the process. They will also be looking to see if platelets perform the same role in letting rapid-attack immune cells called neutrophils out of the bloodstream to fight infections.

"This is a prime example of the important research that the Institutional Development Award program makes possible in states that have historically had low levels of funding from the National Institutes of Health," said NIH grant program official María Teresa Canto, D.D.S., M.S., M.P.H. "Dr. Xia's study sheds light on a process that is key to vascular health as well as to the development of inflammation and associated diseases."

Contributing to the research were scientists Mark Kahn, M.D., of the Division of Cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania, Shaun Coughlin, M.D., Ph.D., of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the University of California at San Francisco, and OMRF scientists Rodger McEver, M.D., Hong Chen, Ph.D., and Florea Lupu, Ph.D.

Funding for the research was provided by grants No. HL085607 and HL093242 from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, grant No. GM103441 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a part of the National Institutes of Health, and the American Heart Association (11SDG7410022).

About OMRF

OMRF is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and developing more effective treatments for human diseases. Its scientists focus on such critical research areas as cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease.

Greg Elwell | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Signaling Pathways to the Nucleus
19.03.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht In monogamous species, a compatible partner is more important than an ornamented one
19.03.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions

19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires

19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>