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Am J Cardiol. 1991 Sep 3;68(7):51B-57B.

Platelet activation in the pathogenesis of unstable angina: importance in determining the response to plasminogen activators.

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


Unstable angina is a clinical syndrome of recurrent myocardial ischemia. In some cases, this reflects episodic platelet activation and coronary thrombosis. Thus, the biosynthesis of thromboxane A2, which is largely derived from activated platelets, is increased, often coincident with chest pain. The major role of platelets in unstable angina may influence the response to plasminogen activators. Platelets increase the resistance of thrombi to lysis, by inducing clot retraction and cross-linking and by releasing inhibitors. Thus, coronary thrombi in unstable angina may be resistant to lysis. Furthermore, both t-PA and streptokinase cause platelet activation and thrombin formation in vivo, possibly via plasmin. Plasmin can activate platelets and factor V directly. These prothrombotic effects of plasminogen activators may limit their activity in unstable angina. At the very least, their therapeutic efficacy may be highly dependent on the coadministration of potent antiplatelet agents and anticoagulants.

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