Immunology of platelet disorders

Baillieres Clin Haematol. 1989 Jul;2(3):749-81. doi: 10.1016/s0950-3536(89)80042-3.


Immune-mediated thrombocytopenias (IMTPs) are frequently-occurring haemostatic disorders in clinical medicine. They may be caused by allo-immunity, autoimmunity, or by drug-induced immune mechanism. All IMTPs are caused by antibodies, which may induce increased platelet destruction but may also hinder platelet function. Many different platelet membrane molecules (i.e. antigens) are involved in the immune processes that play a role in IMTP. Much is already known about the structure of these molecules. Notably the alloantigens involved in alloimmune-mediated thrombocytopenia have been quite well studied. Many of these antigens appear to be polymorphic determinants of adhesion molecules of the integrin superfamily, and are also present on cells other than platelets (endothelial cells, fibroblasts, smooth muscle cells). The methodology for studying platelet antigens and antibodies involved in IMTPs has markedly improved in recent years. This has not only led to better diagnostic tests but also to a better understanding of the immunopathogenesis of these diseases. Platelet immunology is scientifically very much alive, and is expected to remain so in the coming years.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / analysis
  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • Autoantigens / immunology
  • Blood Platelets / drug effects
  • Blood Platelets / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunization / adverse effects
  • Platelet Membrane Glycoproteins / immunology
  • Thrombocytopenia / chemically induced
  • Thrombocytopenia / immunology*


  • Autoantibodies
  • Autoantigens
  • Platelet Membrane Glycoproteins