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J Med. 1983;14(1):17-36.

Platelet activation during steady state sickle cell disease.


Previous reports have given conflicting conclusions of the role platelets may play in initiating vaso-occlusive sickle cell crisis. Seven patients homozygous for sickle cell hemoglobin, and seven age, race and sex matched controls were each studied on at least two occasions in a six week period of normal health. The number of platelets circulating as aggregates, the plasma concentration of beta-thromboglobulin (beta-TG) and platelet factor 4 (PF-4) were significantly elevated compared with controls. These findings were confirmed with a second series of fourteen patients and nine controls. Patient's platelets in plasma adjusted for both platelet number and citrate concentration aggregated more in response to low concentrations (0.4 and 1 microM) but less to higher concentrations (4 and 20 microM) of ADP and needed significantly more prostacyclin (PGI2) to inhibit ADP induced aggregation than did platelets from control subjects. There was no significant difference in plasma concentration of fibrinopeptide A and thromboxane (Tx)B2, nor in the platelet generation of TxB2 and release of serotonin and beta TG induced by aggregating agents. Thus, the platelets of patients with sickle cell anemia in the steady state are readily activated and respond in vivo by increased formation of aggregates and release of beta TG and PF-4.

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