Platelet biology and receptor pathways

J Cardiovasc Transl Res. 2013 Jun;6(3):299-309. doi: 10.1007/s12265-012-9445-9. Epub 2013 Jan 10.


The main function of platelets is to participate in primary hemostasis through four distinct steps: adhesion, activation, secretion, and aggregation. Unraveling the molecular mechanisms underlying these steps has led to a better understanding of the pathophysiology of bleeding disorders, on one hand, and of thrombotic diseases, such as acute coronary syndromes, on the other. Platelets are cytoplasmic fragments of megakaryocytes formed in the bone marrow. They lack nuclei but contain organelles and structures, such as mitochondria, microtubules, and granules. Platelet granules contain different bioactive chemical mediators, many of which have a fundamental role in hemostasis and/or tissue healing. The platelet cytoplasm contains an open canalicular system that increases the effective surface area for the intake of stimulatory agonists and the release of effector substances. The submembrane region contains microfilaments of actin and myosin that mediate morphologic alterations characteristic of shape change. Resting platelets remain in the circulation for an average of approximately 10 days before being removed by macrophages of the reticuloendothelial system. A wide variety of transmembrane receptors cover the platelet membrane, including many integrins, leucine-rich repeat receptors, G protein-coupled receptors, proteins belonging to the immunoglobulin superfamily, C-type lectin receptors, tyrosine kinase receptors, and a variety of other types. In this article, we will review platelet biology under physiological and pathological conditions, with particular emphasis on the function of their membrane receptors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Platelets / drug effects
  • Blood Platelets / metabolism*
  • Hemostasis
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / blood
  • Platelet Activation* / drug effects
  • Platelet Adhesiveness
  • Platelet Aggregation
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction* / drug effects


  • MicroRNAs
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Receptors, Cell Surface