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Keywords:

  • adhesion;
  • immune response;
  • inflammation;
  • platelets;
  • secretion;
  • transplantation

Summary.  Although their central role is in the prevention of bleeding, platelets probably contribute to diverse processes that extend beyond hemostasis and thrombosis. For example, platelets can recruit leukocytes and progenitor cells to sites of vascular injury and inflammation; they release proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory and angiogenic factors and microparticles into the circulation; and they spur thrombin generation. Data from animal models suggest that these functions may contribute to atherosclerosis, sepsis, hepatitis, vascular restenosis, acute lung injury, and transplant rejection. This article represents an integrated summary of presentations given at the Fourth Annual Platelet Colloquium in January 2009. The process of and factors mediating platelet–platelet and platelet–leukocyte interactions in inflammatory and immune responses are discussed, with the roles of P-selectin, chemokines and Src family kinases being highlighted. Also discussed are specific disorders characterized by local or systemic platelet activation, including coronary artery restenosis after percutaneous intervention, alloantibody-mediated transplant rejection, wound healing, and heparin-induced thrombocytopenia.