Hemostasis vs. homeostasis: Platelets are essential for preserving vascular barrier function in the absence of injury or inflammation

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Sep 29;117(39):24316-24325. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2007642117. Epub 2020 Sep 14.


Platelets are best known for their vasoprotective responses to injury and inflammation. Here, we have asked whether they also support vascular integrity when neither injury nor inflammation is present. Changes in vascular barrier function in dermal and meningeal vessels were measured in real time in mouse models using the differential extravasation of fluorescent tracers as a biomarker. Severe thrombocytopenia produced by two distinct methods caused increased extravasation of 40-kDa dextran from capillaries and postcapillary venules but had no effect on extravasation of 70-kDa dextran or albumin. This reduction in barrier function required more than 4 h to emerge after thrombocytopenia was established, reverting to normal as the platelet count recovered. Barrier dysfunction was also observed in mice that lacked platelet-dense granules, dense granule secretion machinery, glycoprotein (GP) VI, or the GPVI signaling effector phospholipase C (PLC) γ2. It did not occur in mice lacking α-granules, C type lectin receptor-2 (CLEC-2), or protease activated receptor 4 (PAR4). Notably, although both meningeal and dermal vessels were affected, intracerebral vessels, which are known for their tighter junctions between endothelial cells, were not. Collectively, these observations 1) highlight a role for platelets in maintaining vascular homeostasis in the absence of injury or inflammation, 2) provide a sensitive biomarker for detecting changes in platelet-dependent barrier function, 3) identify which platelet processes are required, and 4) suggest that the absence of competent platelets causes changes in the vessel wall itself, accounting for the time required for dysfunction to emerge.

Keywords: GPVI signaling; dense granules; homeostasis; platelets; vascular integrity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Platelets / immunology*
  • Blood Vessels / immunology*
  • Blood Vessels / injuries
  • Blood Vessels / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Hemostasis*
  • Homeostasis*
  • Lectins, C-Type / genetics
  • Lectins, C-Type / immunology
  • Male
  • Meninges / blood supply
  • Meninges / immunology
  • Mice
  • Phospholipase C gamma / genetics
  • Phospholipase C gamma / immunology
  • Skin / blood supply
  • Skin / immunology


  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Phospholipase C gamma