Circulating Platelets as Mediators of Immunity, Inflammation, and Thrombosis
Platelets, non-nucleated blood components first described over 130 years ago, are recognized as the primary cell regulating hemostasis and thrombosis. The vascular importance of platelets has been attributed to their essential role in thrombosis, mediating myocardial infarction, stroke, and venous thromboembolism. Increasing knowledge on the platelets’ role in the vasculature has led to many advances in understanding not only how platelets interact with the vessel wall but also how they convey changes in the environment to other circulating cells. In addition to their well-described hemostatic function, platelets are active participants in the immune response to microbial organisms and foreign substances. Although incompletely understood, the immune role of platelets is a delicate balance between its pathogenic response and its regulation of thrombotic and hemostatic functions. Platelets mediate complex vascular homeostasis via specific receptors and granule release, RNA transfer, and mitochondrial secretion that subsequently regulates hemostasis and thrombosis, infection, and innate and adaptive immunity.