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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2010 Mar;30(3):591-8. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.109.197343. Epub 2009 Dec 30.

Platelets and megakaryocytes contain functional nuclear factor-kappaB.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Medicine, Box 850, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.



To investigate the presence and role of NF-kappaB proteins in megakaryocytes and platelets. The nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) transcription factor family is well known for its role in eliciting inflammation and promoting cell survival. We discovered that human megakaryocytes and platelets express the majority of NF-kappaB family members, including the regulatory inhibitor-kappaB (I-kappaB) and I-kappa kinase (IKK) molecules.


Anucleate platelets exposed to NF-kappaB inhibitors demonstrated impaired fundamental functions involved in repairing vascular injury and thrombus formation. Specifically, NF-kappaB inhibition diminished lamellapodia formation, decreased clot retraction times, and reduced thrombus stability. Moreover, inhibition of I-kappaB-alpha phosphorylation (BAY-11-7082) reverted fully spread platelets back to a spheroid morphology. Addition of recombinant IKK-beta or I-kappaB-alpha protein to BAY inhibitor-treated platelets partially restored platelet spreading in I-kappaB-alpha inhibited platelets, and addition of active IKK-beta increased endogenous I-kappaB-alpha phosphorylation levels.


These novel findings support a crucial and nonclassical role for the NF-kappaB family in modulating platelet function and reveal that platelets are sensitive to NF-kappaB inhibitors. As NF-kappaB inhibitors are being developed as antiinflammatory and anticancer agents, they may have unintended effects on platelets. On the basis of these data, NF-kappaB is also identified as a new target to dampen unwanted platelet activation.

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