Platelets and acute cerebral infarction

Platelets. 2013;24(5):407-11. doi: 10.3109/09537104.2012.712168. Epub 2012 Aug 14.


Stroke is worldwide a leading cause of death and disability. Its etiology is regarded as heterogeneous. Platelets are implicated in its pathophysiology, but our understanding of their specific role is incomplete. Only sparse and conflicting information exists about platelet reactivity and activity in acute stroke. Some scientists take the view that platelets activate in conjunction with acute cerebral infarctions. Others put forward evidence corroborating the contrary notion. Increased soluble P-selectin as a sign of platelet and/or endothelial activity seems to be a feature of the disease. The latter point of view is opposed by other researchers. Due to these conflicting opinions, this study is devoted to platelet characteristics in acute cerebral infarctions. We studied subjects (n = 72; age 74 ± 10(SD) years; 31 females) having acute stroke. As controls served atrial fibrillation (AF) patients (n = 58; age 69 ± 7(SD) years; 12 females) subject to electrical cardioversion, a flow cytometer was put to use for measuring platelet reactivity and activity. After agonist provocation, both platelet bound P-selectin and fibrinogen were employed as estimates of platelet reactivity. Dilutions of a thrombin-receptor-activating peptide (TRAP-6) (74 and 57 µmol/l) (P-selectin and fibrinogen) and ADP (8.5 and 1.7 µmol/l) (fibrinogen only) were put to use as platelet agonists. Membrane-bound P-selectin without agonist stimulation served as a measure of in vivo platelet activation. Soluble P-selectin, as determined from a commercial ELISA, was used to assess platelet and/or endothelial activity. In acute stroke neither platelet-bound P-selectin nor fibrinogen after stimulation, i.e. reactivity, differed from AF controls. In contrast, lower platelet activity as judged from surface attached and circulating P-selectin without agonist stimulation proved to be a feature of cerebral infarctions. The p-values were p < 0.001 and p < 0.01, respectively. It is concluded that acute stroke is not associated with platelet reactivity platelets circulate less activated during the disease. It is evident that the mechanisms reflecting platelet reactivity and activity being investigated in this study play minor roles in stroke pathophysiology. New powerful platelet inhibitory drugs are currently introduced. To avoid major bleeding studies on platelet, behavior in acute stroke are necessary before including these medications in stroke treatment protocols.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Atrial Fibrillation / complications
  • Atrial Fibrillation / metabolism
  • Blood Platelets / metabolism*
  • Cerebral Infarction / etiology*
  • Female
  • Fibrinogen / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neutrophils / cytology
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • P-Selectin / metabolism
  • Platelet Activation / physiology
  • Platelet Count
  • Prospective Studies
  • Protein Binding
  • Stroke / metabolism


  • P-Selectin
  • Fibrinogen