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Am J Cardiol. 1991 Sep 3;68(7):11B-15B.

Mechanisms of platelet activation: thromboxane A2 as an amplifying signal for other agonists.

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Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37232.


Thromboxane (Tx) A2 is a product of cyclooxygenase catalyzed metabolism of arachidonic acid. It is formed via prostaglandin (PG) endoperoxide intermediates (PGG2 and PGH2) by a specific synthase. PGH2 appears to exert the same biologic effects as TxA2. The cDNA for a TxA2 receptor has been cloned from a human placental library. Although pharmacologic and biochemical studies suggest the presence of multiple isoforms, this remains to be confirmed at the molecular level. A hydropathy plot of the deduced amino acid sequence of the available clone suggests that it has 7 transmembrane spanning domains, typical of a G protein linked receptor. Pharmacologic studies imply that Tx receptors in platelets are linked to phospholipase C activation via pertussis toxin insensitive G proteins. Candidates include the 42 kD Gq and the 60 kD Ge. TxA2 acts as an amplifying signal for platelet agonists and the response to this eicosanoid is tightly regulated. Mechanisms include rapid hydrolysis of the agonist to the inactive TxB2, autoinactivation of Tx synthase, rapid homologous TxA2 receptor desensitization due to receptor-G protein uncoupling, coincidental sensitization to counterregulatory Gs linked receptor systems and stimulation of prostacyclin formation by TxA2. Due to its role as an amplification signal in platelet activation, inhibition of Tx synthesis and action is an effective mechanism for preventing platelet-dependent vascular occlusion. Aspirin is of proven efficacy in this regard. Tx synthase inhibitors and antagonists are under clinical investigation.

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