The role of platelets in the pathophysiology of asthma

K N Kornerup, C P Page


The incidence of asthma is on the increase worldwide, yet the pathogenesis of this disease is still not fully understood. Many recent drug trials have had disappointing results, thus fuelling the need for more research to be undertaken in this area. Substantial evidence suggests an important role for platelets in various inflammatory diseases, including atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, allergic rhinitis and asthma. In asthma, platelets have been found to actively participate in most of its main features, including bronchial hyperresponsiveness, bronchoconstriction, airway inflammation and airway remodelling. It has recently become clear that platelet-release products, as well as the expression of adhesion molecules on the platelet surface and the ability to undergo chemotaxis, are all involved in these processes. This review focuses on both experimental and clinical studies available to date that have investigated the role of platelets in the pathophysiology of asthma. Taken together, the evidence points toward platelets being an attractive new target in the area of asthma research; a target with much-needed novel therapeutic potential.


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