Role of microparticles in atherothrombosis

J Intern Med. 2008 May;263(5):528-37. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2008.01957.x.


Cell activation or apoptosis leads to plasma membrane blebbing and microparticle (MP) release in the extracellular space. MPs are submicron membrane vesicles which express a panel of phospholipids and proteins specific of the cells they are derived from. Exposure of negatively charged phospholipids and tissue factor confers a procoagulant potential to MPs. MPs accumulate in the lipid core of the atherosclertotic plaque and is a major determinant of its thrombogenecity. Elevation of plasma MPs levels, particularly those of endothelial origin, reflects cellular injury and is considered now as a surrogate marker of vascular dysfunction. Thus, MPs can be seen as triggers of a vicious circle for they promote prothrombogenic and pro-inflammatory responses as well as cellular dysfunction within the vascular compartment. A better knowledge of MP composition and biological effects as well as the mechanisms leading to their clearance will probably open new therapeutic approaches in the treatment of atherothrombosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Atherosclerosis / blood
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology*
  • Atherosclerosis / physiopathology
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure*
  • Coronary Thrombosis / pathology*
  • Endothelial Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Erythrocytes / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / ultrastructure