Objectives: We sought to compare the inhibitory effects of the combination of two doses of aspirin plus clopidogrel with either drug alone on platelet aggregation and activation.
Background: Enhanced platelet inhibitory effects of clopidogrel by aspirin on platelet aggregation and activation are suggested by experimental studies but have not been shown in humans.
Methods: The effects of clopidogrel 75 mg or aspirin 100 (300) mg on platelet aggregation and activation by flow cytometry after stimulation with various agonists were determined in 30 patients with a past history of myocardial infarction.
Results: Clopidogrel alone or in combination with aspirin markedly inhibited adenosine diphosphate (ADP)-mediated platelet aggregation compared with monotherapy with aspirin (24.6 +/- 3.3% or 26.6 +/- 2.7% vs. 44.7 +/- 2.9%; p < 0.001). Combined treatment significantly inhibited collagen-induced aggregation compared with aspirin and clopidogrel (16.4 +/- 2.4%, 36.5 +/- 4.2% and 59.3 +/- 5.1%, respectively;, p < 0.001) and resulted in considerable inhibition of aggregation induced by thrombin receptor agonist peptide (TRAP, p < 0.03). Clopidogrel with or without aspirin significantly suppressed expression of platelet activation markers CD 62p, CD 63 and PAC-1 after stimulation with ADP or thrombin (p < 0.001). In addition, the combined treatment was more effective than either agent alone after activation with low dose thrombin (p < 0.05). Both doses of aspirin equally potentiated the platelet inhibitory effects of clopidogrel. CONCLUSIONS In this prospective clinical ex vivo platelet study, clopidogrel was more effective than aspirin in inhibiting ADP-mediated platelet aggregation and activation. Clopidogrel in combination with aspirin showed synergistic inhibitory effects after stimulation with collagen and thrombin compared with monotherapies. Thus, this dual antiplatelet treatment strategy deserves further evaluation in clinical trials for secondary prevention of acute myocardial infarction or unstable angina.