OxLDL sensitizes platelets for increased formation of extracellular vesicles capable of finetuning macrophage gene expression

Eur J Cell Biol. 2023 Jun;102(2):151311. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcb.2023.151311. Epub 2023 Mar 15.


Platelet extracellular vesicles (PEVs) generated upon platelet activation may play a role in inflammatory pathologies such as atherosclerosis. Oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL), a well-known contributor to atherogenesis, activates platelets and presensitizes them for activation by other agonists. We studied the effect of oxLDL on the secretion, composition, and inflammatory functions of PEVs using contemporary EV analytics. Platelets were activated by co-stimulation with thrombin (T) and collagen (C) ± oxLDL and characterized by high-resolution flow cytometry, nanoparticle tracking analysis, proximity extension assay, western blot, and electron microscopy. The effect of PEVs on macrophage differentiation and functionality was examined by analyzing macrophage surface markers, cytokine secretion, and transcriptome. OxLDL upregulated TC-induced formation of CD61+, P-selectin+ and phosphatidylserine+ PEVs. Blocking the scavenger receptor CD36 significantly suppressed the oxLDL+TC-induced PEV formation, and HDL caused a slight but detectable suppression. The inflammatory protein cargo differed between the PEVs from stimulated and unstimulated platelets. Both oxLDL+TC- and TC-induced PEVs enhanced macrophage HLA-DR and CD86 expression and decreased CD11c expression as well as secretion of several cytokines. Pathways related to cell cycle and regulation of gene expression, and immune system signaling were overrepresented in the differentially expressed genes between TC PEV -treated vs. control macrophages and oxLDL+TC PEV -treated vs. control macrophages, respectively. In conclusion, we speculate that oxLDL and activated platelets contribute to proatherogenic processes by increasing the number of PEVs that provide an adhesive and procoagulant surface, contain inflammatory mediators, and subtly finetune the macrophage gene expression.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Extracellular vesicle; Macrophage; Oxidized low-density lipoprotein; Platelet; Transcriptome.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Platelets* / metabolism
  • Extracellular Vesicles* / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / metabolism
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / pharmacology
  • Macrophages / metabolism


  • oxidized low density lipoprotein
  • Lipoproteins, LDL