Multi-author Review

Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 67, Issue 4, pp 525-544

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Platelets in defense against bacterial pathogens

  • Michael R. YeamanAffiliated withDivision of Infectious Diseases, St. John’s Cardiovascular Research Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Email author 


Platelets interact with bacterial pathogens through a wide array of cellular and molecular mechanisms. The consequences of this interaction may significantly influence the balance between infection and immunity. On the one hand, recent data indicate that certain bacteria may be capable of exploiting these interactions to gain a virulence advantage. Indeed, certain bacterial pathogens appear to have evolved specific ways in which to subvert activated platelets. Hence, it is conceivable that some bacterial pathogens exploit platelet responses. On the other hand, platelets are now known to possess unambiguous structures and functions of host defense effector cells. Recent discoveries emphasize critical features enabling such functions, including expression of toll-like receptors that detect hallmark signals of bacterial infection, an array of microbicidal peptides, as well as other host defense molecules and functions. These concepts are consistent with increased risk and severity of bacterial infection as correlates of clinical abnormalities in platelet quantity and quality. In these respects, the molecular and cellular roles of platelets in host defense against bacterial pathogens are explored with attention on advances in platelet immunobiology.


Platelets Host defenses Bacteria Pathogen Interactions