An elevated platelet count is well recognized as a marker of inflammatory bowel disease activity. There is an increased incidence of systemic thromboembolism in this disease. Recent work indicates that platelets exhibit several proinflammatory properties including release of inflammatory mediators, and recruitment, chemotaxis and modulation of the activity of other inflammatory cells. Furthermore there is evidence that microvascular thrombosis and a procoagulant state may play a role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease.
These observations prompted recent studies of platelet activity in inflammatory bowel disease, which indicate enhanced platelet aggregation in vivo and in vitro, and increased platelet activation as measured by increased release of intracellular proteins into plasma and expression of platelet surface markers, including P-selectin and GP53. These abnormalities could contribute to the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease by enhancing inflammation and promoting microinfarction. Aminosalicylates reduce platelet activity although they also have many other additional properties to explain their efficacy in inflammatory bowel disease. There are however several specific anti-platelet drugs now available which may provide new therapeutic possibilities in the management of this disease.