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1.  Endocannabinoids Control Platelet Activation and Limit Aggregate Formation under Flow 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e108282.
Background
The endocannabinoid system has previously been implicated in the regulation of neurons and inflammatory cells. Additionally, it has been reported that endocannabinoid receptors are present on circulating platelets, but there has been conflicting evidence on their contribution to platelet function.
Objectives
Our aim was to examine the role of endocannabinoids in platelet function in vitro and in vivo.
Methods and Results
We studied the effects of the well-characterized endogenous endocannabinoid anandamide on platelet aggregation in suspension, α-granule release, calcium mobilization, Syk phosphorylation, as well as platelet spreading and aggregate formation under flow. Anandamide inhibits platelet aggregation and α-granule release by collagen, collagen-derived peptide CRP-XL, ADP, arachidonic acid and thromboxane A2 analogue U46619. However, activation via thrombin receptor PAR-1 stays largely unaffected. Calcium mobilization is significantly impaired when platelets are stimulated with collagen or CRP-XL, but remains normal in the presence of the other agonists. In line with this finding, we found that anandamide prevents collagen-induced Syk phosphorylation. Furthermore, anandamide-treated platelets exhibit reduced spreading on immobilized fibrinogen, have a decreased capacity for binding fibrinogen in solution and show perturbed platelet aggregate formation under flow over collagen. Finally, we investigated the influence of Cannabis sativa consumption by human volunteers on platelet activation. Similar to our in vitro findings with anandamide, ex vivo collagen-induced platelet aggregation and aggregate formation on immobilized collagen under flow were impaired in whole blood of donors that had consumed Cannabis sativa.
Conclusions
Endocannabinoid receptor agonists reduce platelet activation and aggregate formation both in vitro and ex vivo after Cannabis sativa consumption. Further elucidation of this novel regulatory mechanism for platelet function may prove beneficial in the search for new antithrombotic therapies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0108282
PMCID: PMC4180465  PMID: 25264625
2.  Pre-existing endothelial cell activation predicts vasoplegia after mitral valve surgery† 
OBJECTIVES
Post-cardiac surgery vasoplegia is a common complication of cardiac surgery, characterized by profound loss of systemic vascular resistance. This results in severe hypotension, high cardiac output and metabolic acidosis reflecting inadequate tissue perfusion. The pathophysiological mechanisms underlying this syndrome remain unknown. We hypothesized that this vasoplegia reflects endothelial dysfunction, either as pre-existing condition or as a consequence of the surgical procedure.
METHODS
To examine these mechanisms, six established and distinct markers of endothelial cell activation were measured pre- and perioperatively in patients undergoing mitral valve surgery. Arterial (radial artery) and myocardial venous blood samples (coronary sinus) were collected simultaneously over the reperfused heart at various time points during the first hour after reperfusion. Additional samples were collected at baseline (brachial vein) and 1 day post-reperfusion (radial artery). Post-cardiac surgery vasoplegia was defined as a mean arterial blood pressure of <60 mmHg, with a cardiac index of ≥2.2 l/min/m2 treated with continuous intravenous administration of norepinephrine.
RESULTS
No myocardial release of endothelial cell activation markers was observed upon reperfusion in patients with vasoplegia (n = 15; mean age 71 years, 73% male). In contrast, in patients without vasoplegia (n = 24; mean age 64 years, 54% male), reperfusion was characterized by a myocardial release of three endothelial cell activation markers. Myocardial von Willebrand Factor propeptide, osteoprotegerin and interleukin-8 were increased 107% (P < 0.001), 106% (P = 0.02) and 116% (P = 0.009), respectively, compared with arterial levels upon reperfusion. Similar systemic levels of all markers were found upon reperfusion in both groups, except for 120% increased soluble P-selectin (sP-selectin) levels in vasoplegia patients (P = 0.03). Remarkably, postoperative vasoplegia was identified with baseline von Willebrand Factor propeptide levels with a cut-off value of 11.9 nM as well as with baseline sP-selectin levels with a cut-off value of 64.4 ng/ml.
CONCLUSIONS
Pre-existing endothelial cell activation, reflected by higher baseline von Willebrand Factor propeptide and sP-selectin levels, is a predisposing factor for post-cardiac surgery vasoplegia. The pre-existing endothelial cell activation may have resulted in desensibilization of endothelium in patients who develop vasoplegic syndrome, resulting in no myocardial release of endothelial cell activation markers upon reperfusion.
doi:10.1093/icvts/ivt243
PMCID: PMC3745151  PMID: 23736659
Endothelial cell activation; Surgery; Vasoplegia
3.  The influence of Erythropoietin on platelet activation, thrombin generation and FVII/active FVII in patients with AMI 
Thrombosis Journal  2014;12:18.
Background
Erythropoietin (Epo) has been shown to improve myocardial function in models of experimental myocardial infarction, but has also been associated with a rise in thromboembolic events. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the influence of Epo on platelet activation and coagulation in patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI).
Methods
The study was designed as a substudy of the randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled REVIVAL-3 (REgeneration of VItal Myocardium in ST-Segment EleVation MyocardiAL Infarction by Erythropoietin) study that investigated the effects of recombinant human Epo in AMI. Serial venous blood samples were collected before and after study medication. Circulating prothrombin fragment F1 + 2, FVII, active FVII, beta thromboglobulin (TG) and P-Selectin were measured before and 60 hours after randomization by immunoassay (n = 94). In a randomly selected subgroup platelet aggregation was measured using whole blood aggregometry (Multiplate Analyzer, n = 45).
Results
After 5 days an increase in FVII was observed after Epo as compared to placebo (P = 0.02), yet active FVII and prothrombin fragment F1 + 2 remained unchanged. Moreover, no statistically significant differences in circulating TG or P-selectin were observed between the groups. As an expected response to peri-interventional therapy with clopidogrel and aspirin, platelet aggregation after stimulation with ADP, TRAP, ASPI or collagen decreased 12 hours and 2 days after PCI. However, no difference between the Epo and the placebo group was observed.
Conclusion
After treatment with Epo in patients with AMI a slight increase in circulating FVII after Epo was not associated with an increase in active FVII, prothrombin fragment F1 + 2, TG or P-selectin. Moreover, platelet aggregation was not altered after treatment with Epo as compared to placebo.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01761435
doi:10.1186/1477-9560-12-18
PMCID: PMC4165375  PMID: 25228850
Platelet activation; Erythropoietin; AMI; PCI
4.  Increased Platelet Reactivity Is Associated with Circulating Platelet-Monocyte Complexes and Macrophages in Human Atherosclerotic Plaques 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105019.
Objective
Platelet reactivity, platelet binding to monocytes and monocyte infiltration play a detrimental role in atherosclerotic plaque progression. We investigated whether platelet reactivity was associated with levels of circulating platelet-monocyte complexes (PMCs) and macrophages in human atherosclerotic carotid plaques.
Methods
Platelet reactivity was determined by measuring platelet P-selectin expression after platelet stimulation with increasing concentrations of adenosine diphosphate (ADP), in two independent cohorts: the Circulating Cells cohort (n = 244) and the Athero-Express cohort (n = 91). Levels of PMCs were assessed by flow cytometry in blood samples of patients who were scheduled for percutaneous coronary intervention (Circulating Cells cohort). Monocyte infiltration was semi-quantitatively determined by histological examination of atherosclerotic carotid plaques collected during carotid endarterectomy (Athero-Express cohort).
Results
We found increased platelet reactivity in patients with high PMCs as compared to patients with low PMCs (median (interquartile range): 4153 (1585–11267) area under the curve (AUC) vs. 9633 (3580–21565) AUC, P<0.001). Also, we observed increased platelet reactivity in patients with high macrophage levels in atherosclerotic plaques as compared to patients with low macrophage levels in atherosclerotic plaques (mean±SD; 8969±3485 AUC vs. 7020±3442 AUC, P = 0.02). All associations remained significant after adjustment for age, sex and use of drugs against platelet activation.
Conclusion
Platelet reactivity towards ADP is associated with levels of PMCs and macrophages in human atherosclerotic carotid plaques.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105019
PMCID: PMC4133361  PMID: 25122139
5.  The Relationship between Fractional Flow Reserve, Platelet Reactivity and Platelet Leukocyte Complexes in Stable Coronary Artery Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83198.
Background
The presence of stenoses that significantly impair blood flow and cause myocardial ischemia negatively affects prognosis of patients with stable coronary artery disease. Altered platelet reactivity has been associated with impaired prognosis of stable coronary artery disease. Platelets are activated and form complexes with leukocytes in response to microshear gradients caused by friction forces on the arterial wall or flow separation. We hypothesized that the presence of significantly flow-limiting stenoses is associated with altered platelet reactivity and formation of platelet-leukocyte complexes.
Methods
One hundred patients with stable angina were studied. Hemodynamic significance of all coronary stenoses was assessed with Fractional Flow Reserve (FFR). Patients were classified FFR-positive (at least one lesion with FFR≤0.75) or FFR-negative (all lesions FFR>0.80). Whole blood samples were stimulated with increasing concentrations of ADP, TRAP, CRP and Iloprost with substimulatory ADP. Expression of P-selectin as platelet activation marker and platelet–leukocyte complexes were measured by flowcytometry. Patients were stratified on clopidogrel use. FFR positive and negative patient groups were compared on platelet reactivity and platelet-leukocyte complexes.
Results
Platelet reactivity between FFR-positive patients and FFR-negative patients did not differ. A significantly lower percentage of circulating platelet-neutrophil complexes in FFR-positive patients and a similar non-significant decrease in percentage of circulating platelet-monocyte complexes in FFR-positive patients was observed.
Conclusion
The presence of hemodynamically significant coronary stenoses does not alter platelet reactivity but is associated with reduced platelet-neutrophil complexes in peripheral blood of patients with stable coronary artery disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083198
PMCID: PMC3877034  PMID: 24391745
6.  Platelet Activation Determines Angiopoietin-1 and VEGF Levels in Malaria: Implications for Their Use as Biomarkers 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e64850.
Introduction
The angiogenic proteins angiopoietin (Ang)-1, Ang-2 and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) are regulators of endothelial inflammation and integrity. Since platelets store large amounts of Ang-1 and VEGF, measurement of circulation levels of these proteins is sensitive to platelet number, in vivo platelet activation and inadvertent platelet activation during blood processing. We studied plasma Ang-1, Ang-2 and VEGF levels in malaria patients, taking the necessary precautions to avoid ex vivo platelet activation, and related plasma levels to platelet count and the soluble platelet activation markers P-selectin and CXCL7.
Methods
Plasma levels of Ang-1, Ang-2, VEGF, P-selectin and CXCL7 were measured in CTAD plasma, minimizing ex vivo platelet activation, in 27 patients with febrile Plasmodium falciparum malaria at presentation and day 2 and 5 of treatment and in 25 healthy controls.
Results
Levels of Ang-1, Ang-2 and VEGF were higher at day 0 in malaria patients compared to healthy controls. Ang-2 levels, which is a marker of endothelial activation, decreased after start of antimalarial treatment. In contrast, Ang-1 and VEGF plasma levels increased and this corresponded with the increase in platelet number. Soluble P-selectin and CXCL7 levels followed the same trend as Ang-1 and VEGF levels. Plasma levels of these four proteins correlated strongly in malaria patients, but only moderately in controls.
Conclusion
In contrast to previous studies, we found elevated plasma levels of Ang-1 and VEGF in patients with malaria resulting from in vivo platelet activation. Ang-1 release from platelets may be important to dampen the disturbing effects of Ang-2 on the endothelium. Evaluation of plasma levels of these angiogenic proteins requires close adherence to a stringent protocol to minimize ex vivo platelet activation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064850
PMCID: PMC3670845  PMID: 23755151
7.  Circulating Biomarkers for Predicting Cardiovascular Disease Risk; a Systematic Review and Comprehensive Overview of Meta-Analyses 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e62080.
Background
Cardiovascular disease is one of the major causes of death worldwide.
Assessing the risk for cardiovascular disease is an important aspect in clinical decision making and setting a therapeutic strategy, and the use of serological biomarkers may improve this. Despite an overwhelming number of studies and meta-analyses on biomarkers and cardiovascular disease, there are no comprehensive studies comparing the relevance of each biomarker. We performed a systematic review of meta-analyses on levels of serological biomarkers for atherothrombosis to compare the relevance of the most commonly studied biomarkers.
Methods and Findings
Medline and Embase were screened on search terms that were related to “arterial ischemic events” and “meta-analyses”. The meta-analyses were sorted by patient groups without pre-existing cardiovascular disease, with cardiovascular disease and heterogeneous groups concerning general populations, groups with and without cardiovascular disease, or miscellaneous. These were subsequently sorted by end-point for cardiovascular disease or stroke and summarized in tables. We have identified 85 relevant full text articles, with 214 meta-analyses. Markers for primary cardiovascular events include, from high to low result: C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, cholesterol, apolipoprotein B, the apolipoprotein A/apolipoprotein B ratio, high density lipoprotein, and vitamin D. Markers for secondary cardiovascular events include, from high to low result: cardiac troponins I and T, C-reactive protein, serum creatinine, and cystatin C. For primary stroke, fibrinogen and serum uric acid are strong risk markers. Limitations reside in that there is no acknowledged search strategy for prognostic studies or meta-analyses.
Conclusions
For primary cardiovascular events, markers with strong predictive potential are mainly associated with lipids. For secondary cardiovascular events, markers are more associated with ischemia. Fibrinogen is a strong predictor for primary stroke.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062080
PMCID: PMC3632595  PMID: 23630624
8.  Platelet Activation Test in Unprocessed Blood (Pac-t-UB) to Monitor Platelet Concentrates and Whole Blood of Thrombocytopenic Patients 
Summary
Background
Platelet concentrate transfusion is the standard treatment for hemato-oncology patients to compensate for thrombocytopenia. We have developed a novel platelet activation test in anticoagulated unprocessed blood (pac-t-UB) to determine platelet function in platelet concentrates and in blood of thrombocytopenic patients.
Methods
We have measured platelet activity in a platelet concentrate and in anticoagulated unprocessed blood of a post-transfusion thrombocytopenic patient.
Results
Our data show time-dependent platelet activation by GPVI agonist (collagen related peptide; CRP), PAR-1 agonist (SFLLRN), P2Y12 agonist (ADP), and thromboxane receptor agonist (U46619) in a platelet concentrate. Furthermore, pac-t-UB showed time-dependent platelet activation in unprocessed blood of a post-transfusion patient with thrombocytopenia. Testing platelet function by different agonists in relation to storage show that 3-day-old platelet concentrates are still reactive to the studied agonists. This reactivity rapidly drops for each agonists during longer storage.
Discussion
Pac-t-UB is a novel tool to estimate platelet function by different agonists in platelet concentrates and in unprocessed blood of thrombocytopenic patients. In the near future, we will validate whether pac-t-UB is an adequate test to monitor the quality of platelet concentrates and whether pac-t-UB predicts the bleeding risk of transfused thrombocytopenic patients.
doi:10.1159/000350688
PMCID: PMC3638932  PMID: 23652405
Flow cytometry; Platelet, Platelet activation; Platelet concentrates; Platelet function; Platelet storage; Platelet transfusion; Platelets; Thrombocytopenia
9.  Platelets of patients with chronic kidney disease demonstrate deficient platelet reactivity in vitro 
BMC Nephrology  2012;13:127.
Background
In patients with chronic kidney disease studies focusing on platelet function and properties often are non-conclusive whereas only few studies use functional platelet tests. In this study we evaluated a recently developed functional flow cytometry based assay for the analysis of platelet function in chronic kidney disease.
Methods
Platelet reactivity was measured using flow cytometric analysis. Platelets in whole blood were triggered with different concentrations of agonists (TRAP, ADP, CRP). Platelet activation was quantified with staining for P-selectin, measuring the mean fluorescence intensity. Area under the curve and the concentration of half-maximal response were determined.
Results
We studied 23 patients with chronic kidney disease (9 patients with cardiorenal failure and 14 patients with end stage renal disease) and 19 healthy controls. Expression of P-selectin on the platelet surface measured as mean fluorescence intensity was significantly less in chronic kidney disease patients compared to controls after maximal stimulation with TRAP (9.7 (7.9-10.8) vs. 11.4 (9.2-12.2), P = 0.032), ADP (1.6 (1.2-2.1) vs. 2.6 (1.9-3.5), P = 0.002) and CRP (9.2 (8.5-10.8) vs. 11.5 (9.5-12.9), P = 0.004). Also the area under the curve was significantly different. There was no significant difference in half-maximal response between both groups.
Conclusion
In this study we found that patients with chronic kidney disease show reduced platelet reactivity in response of ADP, TRAP and CRP compared to controls. These results contribute to our understanding of the aberrant platelet function observed in patients with chronic kidney disease and emphasize the significance of using functional whole blood platelet activation assays.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-13-127
PMCID: PMC3473261  PMID: 23020133
Platelet activation; Haemodialysis; Cardiorenal syndrome; End-stage renal disease
10.  Effect modification by population dietary folate on the association between MTHFR genotype, homocysteine, and stroke risk: a meta-analysis of genetic studies and randomised trials 
Lancet  2011;378(9791):584-594.
Summary
Background
The MTHFR 677C→T polymorphism has been associated with raised homocysteine concentration and increased risk of stroke. A previous overview showed that the effects were greatest in regions with low dietary folate consumption, but differentiation between the effect of folate and small-study bias was difficult. A meta-analysis of randomised trials of homocysteine-lowering interventions showed no reduction in coronary heart disease events or stroke, but the trials were generally set in populations with high folate consumption. We aimed to reduce the effect of small-study bias and investigate whether folate status modifies the association between MTHFR 677C→T and stroke in a genetic analysis and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.
Methods
We established a collaboration of genetic studies consisting of 237 datasets including 59 995 individuals with data for homocysteine and 20 885 stroke events. We compared the genetic findings with a meta-analysis of 13 randomised trials of homocysteine-lowering treatments and stroke risk (45 549 individuals, 2314 stroke events, 269 transient ischaemic attacks).
Findings
The effect of the MTHFR 677C→T variant on homocysteine concentration was larger in low folate regions (Asia; difference between individuals with TT versus CC genotype, 3·12 μmol/L, 95% CI 2·23 to 4·01) than in areas with folate fortification (America, Australia, and New Zealand, high; 0·13 μmol/L, −0·85 to 1·11). The odds ratio (OR) for stroke was also higher in Asia (1·68, 95% CI 1·44 to 1·97) than in America, Australia, and New Zealand, high (1·03, 0·84 to 1·25). Most randomised trials took place in regions with high or increasing population folate concentrations. The summary relative risk (RR) of stroke in trials of homocysteine-lowering interventions (0·94, 95% CI 0·85 to 1·04) was similar to that predicted for the same extent of homocysteine reduction in large genetic studies in populations with similar folate status (predicted RR 1·00, 95% CI 0·90 to 1·11). Although the predicted effect of homocysteine reduction from large genetic studies in low folate regions (Asia) was larger (RR 0·78, 95% CI 0·68 to 0·90), no trial has evaluated the effect of lowering of homocysteine on stroke risk exclusively in a low folate region.
Interpretation
In regions with increasing levels or established policies of population folate supplementation, evidence from genetic studies and randomised trials is concordant in suggesting an absence of benefit from lowering of homocysteine for prevention of stroke. Further large-scale genetic studies of the association between MTHFR 677C→T and stroke in low folate settings are needed to distinguish effect modification by folate from small-study bias. If future randomised trials of homocysteine-lowering interventions for stroke prevention are undertaken, they should take place in regions with low folate consumption.
Funding
Full funding sources listed at end of paper (see Acknowledgments).
doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60872-6
PMCID: PMC3156981  PMID: 21803414
11.  Maternal TLR4 and NOD2 Gene Variants, Pro-Inflammatory Phenotype and Susceptibility to Early-Onset Preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(4):e1865.
Background
Altered maternal inflammatory responses play a role in the development of preeclampsia and the hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelets (HELLP) syndrome. We examined whether allelic variants of the innate immune receptors Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) and nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain 2 (NOD2), that impair the inflammatory response to endotoxin, are related to preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome.
Methods and Findings
We determined five common mutations in TLR4 (D299G and T399I) and NOD2 (R702W, G908R and L1007fs) in 340 primiparous women with a history of early-onset preeclampsia, of whom 177 women developed HELLP syndrome and in 113 women with a history of only uneventful pregnancies as controls. In addition, we assessed plasma levels of pro-inflammatory biomarkers C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1, fibrinogen and von Willebrand factor in a subset of 214 women included at least six months after delivery. After adjustment for maternal age and chronic hypertension, attenuating allelic variants of TLR4 were more common in women with a history of early-onset preeclampsia than in controls (OR 2.9 [95% CI 1.2–6.7]). Highest frequencies for TLR4 variants were observed in women who developed HELLP syndrome (adjusted OR 4.1 [95% CI 1.7–9.8]). In addition, high levels of interleukin-6 and fibrinogen were associated with a history of early-onset preeclampsia. Combined positivity for any of the TLR4 and NOD2 allelic variants and high levels of interleukin-6 was 6.9-fold more common in women with a history of early-onset preeclampsia (95% CI 2.1–23.2) compared to controls.
Conclusions
We observed an association of common TLR4 and NOD2 gene variants, and pro-inflammatory phenotype with a history of early-onset preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. These findings suggest involvement of the maternal innate immune system in severe hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001865
PMCID: PMC2270909  PMID: 18382655

Results 1-11 (11)