Platelets: emerging facilitators of cellular crosstalk in rheumatoid arthritis.


Department of Physiological Sciences, Faculty of Science, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa. [Email]


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which a variety of circulating pro-inflammatory cells and dysregulated molecules are involved in disease aetiology and progression. Platelets are an important cellular element in the circulation that can bind several dysregulated molecules (such as collagen, thrombin and fibrinogen) that are present both in the synovium and the circulation of patients with RA. Platelets not only respond to dysregulated molecules in their environment but also transport and express their own inflammatory mediators, and serve as regulators at the boundary between haemostasis and immunity. Activated platelets also produce microparticles, which further convey signalling molecules and receptors to the synovium and circulation, thereby positioning these platelet-derived particles as strategic regulators of inflammation. These diverse functions come together to make platelets facilitators of cellular crosstalk in RA. Thus, the receptor functions, ligand binding potential and dysregulated signalling pathways in platelets are becoming increasingly important for treatment in RA. This Review aims to highlight the role of platelets in RA and the need to closely examine platelets as health indicators when designing effective pharmaceutical targets in this disease.

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