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J Vet Med Sci. 2017 Feb 28;79(2):387-392. doi: 10.1292/jvms.16-0461. Epub 2016 Dec 30.

In vitro canine platelet aggregation caused by Dirofilaria immitis extract.

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Laboratory of Veterinary Parasitology, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Applied Biological Sciences, Gifu University, 1-1 Yanagido, Gifu 501-1193, Japan.


Platelet function hyper-activity has been reported in Dirofilaria immitis (heartworm, HW)-infected dogs. Although the mechanism of increased platelet hyper-activity has not yet been elucidated, it is suggested to be mediated by unknown factors, which may be related to adult HW components. This study aims to determine whether adult male HW whole body extract induces canine platelet aggregation in vitro. The results indicate that HW extract caused an aggregation of canine platelets in a concentration-dependent manner. This aggregation ability of the HW extract was not mediated by the adenosine diphosphate receptor. In addition, the mechanisms of aggregation did not require cyclooxygenase-dependent pathways, and the aggregating activity of substances contained in the HW extract was heat stable; therefore, the active substances may be different from collagen. Furthermore, the platelet aggregating activity remained within the molecular weight (MW)≥100,000 fraction obtained by ultrafiltrating the HW extract. In contrast, the MW <100,000 fraction also had a platelet aggregation ability, but the aggregation pattern was reversible and the maximum extent decreased, compared with the MW≥100,000 fraction response. Our experiments have been conducted using a whole body extract from adult HWs to determine with certainty the aggregating activity of HW elements on canine platelets. More studies are necessary to evaluate the effects of the metabolic products released from live adult worms in pulmonary arteries and the symbiont bacterium Wolbachia-derived antigens on canine platelet aggregation.

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