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Summary

Irrefutable clinical evidence demonstrates the activation of platelets in allergic diseases, including asthma, allergic rhinitis, and eczema. Indeed, experimental models of allergic disease have now shown that platelets play a fundamental role in the tissue recruitment of leucocytes following exposure to allergens. Furthermore, the extravascular presence of platelets in lungs of patients with asthma, and in animal models of allergic lung inflammation suggests that platelets may also contribute directly to allergic inflammation, through alterations in lung function, or by modulating processes involved in airway wall remodelling. Despite significant platelet activation in patients with allergic diseases, it is of note that these patients have been described as having a mild haemostastic defect, rather than an increased incidence of thrombosis. This suggests a dichotomy exists in platelet activation during inflammation compared to haemostasis, and that hitherto undiscovered platelet activation pathways might be exploited to create novel anti-inflammatory therapies without affecting the critical function of platelets in haemostasis.