Platelet activation and inhibition in polycythemia vera and essential thrombocythemia

Blood. 2013 Mar 7;121(10):1701-11. doi: 10.1182/blood-2012-10-429134. Epub 2013 Jan 18.


Persistently enhanced platelet activation has been characterized in polycythemia vera (PV) and essential thrombocythemia (ET) and shown to contribute to a higher risk of both arterial and venous thrombotic complications. The incidence of major bleeding complications is also somewhat higher in PV and ET than in the general population. Although its efficacy and safety was assessed in just 1 relatively small trial in PV, low-dose aspirin is currently recommended in practically all PV and ET patients. Although for most patients with a thrombosis history the benefit/risk profile of antiplatelet therapy is likely to be favorable, in those with no such history this balance will depend critically on the level of thrombotic and hemorrhagic risks of the individual patient. Recent evidence for a chemopreventive effect of low-dose aspirin may tilt the balance of benefits and harm in favor of using aspirin more broadly, but the potential for additional benefits needs regulatory scrutiny and novel treatment guidelines. A clear pharmacodynamic rationale and analytical tools are available for a personalized approach to antiplatelet therapy in ET, and an improved regimen of low-dose aspirin therapy should be tested in a properly sized randomized trial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Platelet Activation / drug effects*
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Polycythemia Vera / etiology
  • Polycythemia Vera / prevention & control*
  • Risk Factors
  • Thrombocythemia, Essential / etiology
  • Thrombocythemia, Essential / prevention & control*


  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors