It's reticulated: the liver at the heart of atherosclerosis Academic Article uri icon


  • Platelets play a critical role in both the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis, and even more so in the ensuing atherothrombotic complications. Low-dose aspirin remains the mainstay of antiplatelet therapy in high-risk patients by reducing the risk of myocardial ischemia, stroke or death due to cardiovascular disease. However, antiplatelet therapies lose their efficacy in people with diabetes mellitus, increasing the risk of future atherothrombotic events. The molecular mechanisms that promote platelet hyperactivity remain unclear but could be due to glycation-induced conformational changes of platelet membranes resulting in impaired aspirin entry or less-efficient acetylation/compensatory increase in COX-2 expression in newborn platelets. Emerging evidence from our laboratory and elsewhere suggest that enhanced platelet turnover (thrombopoiesis), particularly the production of immature reticulated platelets from the bone marrow, could contribute to atherosclerotic complications. We have identified a major role for neutrophil-derived S100A8/A9, a damage-associated molecular pattern, in driving reticulated thrombopoiesis by directly interacting with its receptors on Kupffer cells in the liver. In this review, we discuss the role of hepatic inflammation in driving reticulated platelet production and suggest potential targets to control their production, improve efficacy of current antiplatelet therapies and reduce the risk of atherothrombotic complications.

publication date

  • 2018