Patients with hemoglobin E/β-thalassemia (E/β-Thal) who have undergone splenectomy are prone to thrombosis in the small pulmonary arteries.To study the role of platelets in this situation, we assayed plasma β2-thromboglobulin (βTG) and performed whole blood platelet aggregation analysis of 30 E/β-Thal patients, half of whom had undergone splenectomy.We compared results with those obtained with 15 healthy control subjects. Plasma βTG levels in splenectomy patients were significantly higher than in control subjects and patients who had not undergone splenectomy, and platelets in splenectomy patients exhibited hyperaggregation in response to adenosine diphosphate, thrombin, and ristocetin. Levels of plasma thrombin-antithrombin III complex were also significantly higher. This finding is likely due to an increased number of erythrocytes with exposed phosphatidylserines, an effect that has been associated with splenectomy. The increased presence of thrombin in the blood may well be the cause of platelet hyperactivity, which was evident only in the asplenic patients. Platelet hyperactivity very likely plays a pathogenetic role in the thrombosis of small pulmonary arteries that occurs in E/β-Thal patients who have undergone splenectomy.
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Atichartakarn, V., Angchaisuksiri, P., Aryurachai, K. et al. In vivo Platelet Activation and Hyperaggregation in Hemoglobin E/β-Thalassemia: A Consequence of Splenectomy. Int J Hematol 77, 299–303 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02983790
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