Spontaneous and induced platelet aggregation in apparently healthy subjects in relation to age


Thrombotic disorders remain the leading cause of mortality and morbidity, despite the fact that anti-platelet therapies and vascular implants are successfully used today. As life expectancy is increasing in western societies, the specific knowledge about processes leading to thrombosis in elderly is essential for an adequate therapeutic management of platelet dysfunction and for tailoring blood contacting implants. This study addresses the limited available data on platelet function in apparently healthy subjects in relation to age, particularly in view of subjects of old age (80–98 years). Apparently healthy subjects between 20 and 98 years were included in this study. Platelet function was assessed by light transmission aggregometry and comprised experiments on spontaneous as well as ristocetin-, ADP- and collagen-induced platelet aggregation. The data of this study revealed a non-linear increase in the maximum spontaneous platelet aggregation (from 3.3% ±3.3% to 10.9% ±5.9%). The maximum induced aggregation decreased with age for ristocetin (from 85.8% ±7.2% to 75.0% ±7.8%), ADP (from 88.5% ±4.6% to 64.8% ±7.3%) and collagen (from 89.5% ±3.0% to 64.0% ±4.0%) in a non-linear manner (linear regression analysis). These observations indicate that during aging, circulating platelets become increasingly activated but lose their full aggregatory potential, a phenomenon that was earlier termed “platelet exhaustion”. In this study we extended the limited existing data for spontaneous and induced platelet aggregation of apparently healthy donors above the age of 75 years. The presented data indicate that the extrapolation of data from a middle age group does not necessarily predict platelet function in apparently healthy subjects of old age. It emphasizes the need for respective studies to improve our understanding of thrombotic processes in elderly humans.
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