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J Intern Med. 2008 May;263(5):528-37. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2008.01957.x.

Role of microparticles in atherothrombosis.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (Unit 689), Cardiovascular Research Institute Inserm, Paris, France.


Cell activation or apoptosis leads to plasma membrane blebbing and microparticle (MP) release in the extracellular space. MPs are submicron membrane vesicles which express a panel of phospholipids and proteins specific of the cells they are derived from. Exposure of negatively charged phospholipids and tissue factor confers a procoagulant potential to MPs. MPs accumulate in the lipid core of the atherosclertotic plaque and is a major determinant of its thrombogenecity. Elevation of plasma MPs levels, particularly those of endothelial origin, reflects cellular injury and is considered now as a surrogate marker of vascular dysfunction. Thus, MPs can be seen as triggers of a vicious circle for they promote prothrombogenic and pro-inflammatory responses as well as cellular dysfunction within the vascular compartment. A better knowledge of MP composition and biological effects as well as the mechanisms leading to their clearance will probably open new therapeutic approaches in the treatment of atherothrombosis.

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