Interaction between platelets and endothelium: from pathophysiology to new therapeutic options
Platelets were traditionally considered to purely have a role in the maintenance of haemostasis. Recently their role in vasomotor function, inflammation and atherosclerosis has been very well-recognized. Endothelium which was originally considered as a simple passive barrier, it is now viewed as an organ whose normal functioning is crucial for maintaining vascular health. When endothelial balance is disturbed, vascular disease initiates. Platelet interactions with endothelium have an important contribution in this process. Low-grade inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, and platelet hyper-reactivity are all independently associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events. Older antiplatelet agents like aspirin and clopidogrel and newer more potent agents like prasugrel and ticagrelor have been proven effective in all the clinical spectrum of coronary artery disease patients. Current antiplatelet medications and especially newer generation P2Y12 inhibitor ticagrelor, offer clinical benefits not only due to their well-recognized antithrombotic effect, but also via the attenuation of platelet inflammatory action, impediment of P2Y12 activation effects in other cells and through other complex and sometimes undefined pathways. Future research is expected to better define platelet-endothelium interactions and the multiple impact of current antiplatelet therapy on them.