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J Thromb Thrombolysis. 2014 Jan;37(1):12-6. doi: 10.1007/s11239-013-1001-1.

New paradigms in thrombosis: novel mediators and biomarkers platelet RNA transfer.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Albert Sherman Center, 368 Plantation St, S7-1051, Worcester, MA, 01605, USA.


Platelets, anucleated cells with a central role in hemostasis and inflammation, contain messenger RNAs and microRNAs of unknown functionality and clinical relevance. Historically, platelet RNA was viewed as merely a remnant of platelet biogenesis; however, several studies now refute this assumption. Studies have shown that platelets can actively translate RNA to protein and that specific RNA profiles correlate with select human clinical phenotypes. These studies support a more fluid role for platelet RNA in platelet function and disease development. Our lab and others have recently studied the platelet's unique ability to transfer RNA to recipient cells and the effect this transfer has on the recipient cells' functions. This transfer may represent a previously unknown form of vascular cell communication and modulation. Unlike the well-characterized thrombotic properties of platelets, the nature and purpose of platelet RNA transfer has not been determined, partly due to limitations in techniques used to manipulate platelet RNA profiles. Defining the mechanism of RNA transfer and its role in the vascular system will allow for the better understanding of how platelets function in both their traditional thrombotic role and non-traditional functions, potentially having widespread implications in several fields.

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