, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 115-126

Platelets as a model for neurones?

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The multiple biochemical and pharmacological similarities existing between blood platelets and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)-containing neurones of the CNS point to the platelets as a reliable model for the biochemical characterization of 5-HT releasers and uptake blockers which interfere with the storage and the active carrier mechanism of 5-HT in the neurones, respectively. In addition, the affinity displayed by dopamine and by dopaminergic neurotoxin MPP+ for the platelet 5-HT transport and storage indicates also some similarities between platelets and the dopaminergic system of the CNS. Since human platelets contain almost exclusively monoamine oxidase type B (MAO-B), they can be used as a source for the purification and characterization of this human enzyme. Human platelets thus offer an excellent peripheral model to indirectly assess the degree and duration of MAO-B inhibition occurring in the CNS. To date, knowledge of the many biochemical mechanisms underlying platelet physiology is still fragmentary. In fact, the functional role of binding sites located on the platelet cytoplasmic membrane, i.e. their coupling to a specific transmembrane signalling mechanism, is still in need of a precise biochemical and physiological characterization.