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Platelets. 1998;9(3-4):251-5.

Clopidogrel: a review of its mechanism of action.

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Sanofi Recherche, Haemobiology Research Department, Toulouse, France.


The search for active antiplatelet drugs within the original chemical class of the thienopyridines, led to the discovery of clopidogrel, a novel ADP-selective agent whose antiaggregating properties are several times higher than those of ticlopidine. The antiaggregating properties of this compound are well known and, very recently, new results have clarified its mechanism of action. Clopidogrel is active only after intravenous or oral administration, and no circulating activity has been found in the plasma of treated animals or human volunteers. Experiments in rats have demonstrated that the antiaggregating activity was caused by a shortlasting metabolite generated in the liver by a cytochrome P450-dependent pathway. The antiaggregating property of clopidogrel is caused by an inhibition of the binding of ADP to its platelet receptors, and more specifically to the low affinity receptors, the high affinity binding sites being unaffected by clopidogrel. Several events in the ADP activation process, including adenylyl cyclase down-regulation, protein tyrosine phosphorylation, activation of the GPIIb-IIIa complex, fibrinogen binding, aggregation and release, were inhibited by clopidogrel and indicate their close relationship with the activation of a low affinity receptor by ADP. In contrast, binding of ADP to its high affinity binding sites (clopidogrel-resistant receptors) induced shape change, cytosolic calcium increase and phosphorylations of several other proteins, some events which were clopidogrel-sensitive. Thus, clopidogrel not only constitutes a potent antithrombotic drug in humans but also a good tool to study the effect of ADP on platelets.


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