Role of blood platelets in infection and inflammation

J Interferon Cytokine Res. 2002 Sep;22(9):913-22. doi: 10.1089/10799900260286623.


Blood platelets are here presented as active players in antimicrobial host defense and the induction of inflammation and tissue repair in addition to their participation in hemostasis. Megakaryopoiesis is inhibited after acute infection with viruses or bacteria. In contrast, chronic inflammation is often associated with reactive thrombocytosis. Platelets can bind and internalize pathogens and release microbicidal proteins that kill certain bacteria and fungi. By making cell-cell contacts with leukocytes and endothelial cells, platelets assist white blood cells in rolling, arrest and transmigration. On stimulation by bacteria or thrombin, platelets release the content of their alpha-granules, which include an arsenal of bioactive peptides, such as CC-chemokines and CXC-chemokines and growth factors for endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts. Thus, integral to innate immunity, the tiny little platelets may become bombshells when irritated by pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Platelets / microbiology
  • Blood Platelets / physiology*
  • Blood Platelets / virology
  • Cell Communication
  • Chemokines / metabolism
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / metabolism
  • Endocytosis
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology
  • Growth Substances / metabolism
  • Hematopoiesis
  • Humans
  • Infections / blood*
  • Infections / complications
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation Mediators / physiology
  • Leukocyte Rolling
  • Megakaryocytes / cytology
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology
  • Thrombocytopenia / etiology
  • Thrombocytosis / etiology
  • Thrombopoietin / physiology


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Growth Substances
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Thrombopoietin