Platelet polyphosphate induces fibroblast chemotaxis and myofibroblast differentiation

J Thromb Haemost. 2020 Nov;18(11):3043-3052. doi: 10.1111/jth.15066. Epub 2020 Sep 10.


Background: Platelets secrete many pro-wound healing molecules such as growth factors and cytokines. We found that releasates from activated human platelets induced the differentiation of cultured murine and human fibroblasts into a myofibroblast phenotype. Surprisingly, most of this differentiation-inducing activity was heat-stable, suggesting it was not due to the protein component of the releasates. Inorganic polyphosphate is a major constituent of platelet-dense granules and promotes blood coagulation and inflammation.

Objectives: We aim to investigate the contribution of polyphosphate on myofibroblast differentiating activity of platelet releasates.

Methods: Using NIH-3T3 cells and primary human fibroblasts, we examined the effect of human platelet releasates and chemically synthesized polyphosphate on fibroblast differentiation and migration.

Results: We found that the myofibroblast-inducing activity of platelet releasates was severely attenuated after incubation with a polyphosphate-degrading enzyme, and that fibroblasts responded to platelet-sized polyphosphate by increased levels of α-smooth muscle actin, stress fibers, and collagen. Furthermore, fibroblasts were chemotactic toward polyphosphate.

Conclusions: These findings indicate that platelet-derived polyphosphate acts as a cell signaling molecule by inducing murine and human fibroblasts to differentiate into myofibroblasts, a cell type known to drive both wound healing and fibrosing diseases. Polyphosphate therefore not only promotes early wound responses through enhancing fibrin clot formation, but also may play roles in the later stages of wound healing, and, potentially, progression of fibrotic diseases, by recruiting fibroblasts and inducing their differentiation into myofibroblasts.

Keywords: blood platelets; chemotaxis; fibroblasts; myofibroblasts; platelet activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins
  • Animals
  • Blood Platelets
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemotaxis
  • Fibroblasts
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Myofibroblasts*
  • Polyphosphates*


  • Actins
  • Polyphosphates