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Transfus Med Rev. 2003 Jan;17(1):45-56.

Understanding platelet function through signal transduction.

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  • 1Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, St. Michael's Hospital, The Canadian Blood Services, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Platelets are activated by a number of stimuli resulting in the expression and/or activation of surface receptors, secretion of vasoactive substances, adhesion, aggregation, and finally thrombus formation. These events are propagated by a process known as transmembrane signaling, which relays the activating signal from the platelet membrane (eg, von Willebrand Factor binding to glycoprotein Ib) to the inside of the platelet which then serves to activate the platelet via a cascade of biochemical interactions. Inhibition of these transmembrane signaling molecules with a variety of available inhibitors or antagonists can in many cases prevent the platelet from becoming activated. An awareness of the mechanisms involved in platelet transmembrane signaling and the recent availability of new reagents to inhibit signaling may provide us with additional means to prevent platelet activation and perhaps even ameliorate the platelet storage lesion. This review will provide an introduction to the field of platelet transmembrane signaling and give an overview of some of the platelet signaling mechanisms that are relevant to transfusion medicine.

Copyright 2003, Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.

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