Platelets and HIV-1 infection: old and new aspects

Curr HIV Res. 2008 Sep;6(5):411-8. doi: 10.2174/157016208785861140.


In this review we summarize the data on interaction of platelets with HIV-1 infection. Thrombocytopenia is a common finding among HIV-1 infected patients; several combined factors contribute to low peripheral platelet counts, which are present during all the stages of the disease. In addition, a relationship between platelet count, plasma viral load and disease progression has been reported, and this shows the potential influence platelets may have on the natural history of HIV-1 disease. Several lines of evidence have shown that platelets are an integral part of inflammation, and can be also potent effector cells of innate immune response as well as of adaptive immunity. Thus, we rewieved the role of inflammatory cytokines, and chemokines as activators of platelets during HIV-1 infection. Moreover, platelets show a direct interaction with HIV-1 itself, through different pathogenic mechanisms as binding, engulfment, internalisation of HIV-1, playing a role in host defence during HIV-1 infection, by limiting viral spread and probably by inactivating viral particles. Platelets may also play an intriguing role on endothelial dysfunction present in HIV-1 infection, and this topic begins to receive systematic study, inasmuch as interaction between platelets and endothelial cells is important in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis in HIV-1 infected patients, especially in those patients treated with antiretroviral drugs. Finally, this review attempts to better define the state of this emerging issue, to focus areas of potential clinical relevance, and to suggest several directions for future research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Platelets / virology*
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • Humans
  • Thrombocytopenia*


  • Cytokines