Interactions between platelet glycoprotein (Gp) IIb/IIIa and plasma proteins mediate platelet cross-linking in arterial thrombi. However, GpIIb/IIIa inhibitors fail to disperse platelet aggregates after myocardial infarction or ischemic stroke. These results suggest that stability of occlusive thrombi involves additional and as-yet-unidentified mechanisms. In the present study, we investigated the mechanisms driving platelet cross-linking during occlusive thrombus formation. Using computational fluid dynamic simulations and in vivo thrombosis models, we demonstrated that the inner structure of occlusive thrombi is heterogeneous and primarily determined by the rheological conditions that prevailed during thrombus growth. Unlike the first steps of thrombus formation, which are GpIIb/IIIa-dependent, our findings reveal that closure of the arterial lumen is mediated by GpIbα-von Willebrand Factor (VWF) interactions. Accordingly, disruption of platelet cross-linking using GpIbα-VWF inhibitors restored vessel patency and improved outcome in a mouse model of ischemic stroke, although the thrombi were resistant to fibrinolysis or traditional antithrombotic agents. Overall, our study demonstrates that disruption of GpIbα-VWF interactions restores vessel patency after occlusive thrombosis by specifically disaggregating the external layer of occlusive thrombi, which is constituted of platelet aggregates formed under very high shear rates.
© 2014 by The American Society of Hematology.