Altered platelet reactivity in peripheral vascular disease complicated with elevated plasma homocysteine levels

Rocio Riba, Anna Nicolaou, Max Troxler, Shervanthi Homer-Vaniasinkam, Khalid M. Naseem

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Elevated plasma concentrations of the sulphur-containing amino acid homocysteine (Hcy) is associated with increased risk of atherosclerosis and arterial thrombosis. The mechanism by which Hcy exerts these effects has yet to be fully elucidated, although a variety of possible mechanisms have been proposed, including endothelial dysfunction or haemostatic abnormalities. However, the influence of Hcy on platelets, cells central to the atherothrombotic process, has never been addressed directly in patient studies. Here, the influence of mild hyperhomocysteinaemia (hHcy) on platelet function was explored in patients with peripheral occlusive arterial disease as evidence by intermittent claudication. Claudicants (n=39) were assigned to one of two subgroups depending on their plasma Hcy concentrations. hHcy claudicants had plasma Hcy concentrations of 18.9±1.0 μM (n=24), compared to 11.3±0.5 μM for normohomocysteinemic (nHcy) claudicants (n=15) and 12.6±0.7 μM for age-matched controls (n=15). Platelet function was evaluated ex vivo in both groups and compared to age-matched controls. Platelet activation and sensitivity to nitric oxide-mediated inhibition was assessed by platelet fibrinogen binding and P-selectin expression. At low concentrations of adenosine diphosphate (ADP; 0.1 μM) and thrombin (0.02 U/ml), platelets from hHcy claudicants were more reactive than those from age-matched controls, but not nHcy claudicants. Agonist-induced P-selectin expression was significantly raised in hHcy claudicants compared to all other groups. Interestingly no differences were observed between nHcy claudicants and age-matched controls, indicating that claudication per se did not affect platelet function. Since platelet activity in vivo is determined by the exposure to both agonists and antagonists, we subsequently tested the sensitivity of platelets to inhibition by nitric oxide (NO), using the same platelet markers. Platelets from hHcy claudicants were significantly less sensitive to GSNO (1-100 μM)-mediated inhibition than all other groups. GSNO (1 μM) induced 42.6±10 and 39±11.5% inhibition of ADP-induced fibrinogen binding for the nHcy claudicants and age-matched controls, respectively. However, in hHcy claudicants only 16.4±9.7% inhibition was observed, significantly less than the other groups (P
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)69-75
    Number of pages6
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004


    • Homocysteine
    • Nitric oxide
    • Platelets


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