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Blood. 2008 Jan 15;111(2):613-23. Epub 2007 Sep 21.

Thrombospondin-1 stimulates platelet aggregation by blocking the antithrombotic activity of nitric oxide/cGMP signaling.

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Laboratory of Pathology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Platelet alpha-granules constitute the major rapidly releasable reservoir of thrombospondin-1 in higher animals. Although some fragments and peptides derived from thrombospondin-1 stimulate or inhibit platelet aggregation, its physiologic function in platelets has remained elusive. We now show that endogenous thrombospondin-1 is necessary for platelet aggregation in vitro in the presence of physiologic levels of nitric oxide (NO). Exogenous NO or elevation of cGMP delays thrombin-induced platelet aggregation under high shear and static conditions, and exogenous thrombospondin-1 reverses this delay. Thrombospondin-1-null murine platelets fail to aggregate in response to thrombin in the presence of exogenous NO or 8Br-cGMP. At physiologic concentrations of the NO synthase substrate arginine, thrombospondin-1-null platelets have elevated basal cGMP. Ligation of CD36 or CD47 is sufficient to block NO-induced cGMP accumulation and mimic the effect of thrombospondin-1 on aggregation. Exogenous thrombospondin-1 also reverses the suppression by NO of alphaIIb/beta3 integrin-mediated platelet adhesion on immobilized fibrinogen, mediated in part by increased GTP loading of Rap1. Thrombospondin-1 also inhibits cGMP-mediated activation of cGMP-dependent protein kinase and thereby prevents phosphorylation of VASP. Thus, release of thrombospondin-1 from alpha-granules during activation provides positive feedback to promote efficient platelet aggregation and adhesion by overcoming the antithrombotic activity of physiologic NO.

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