Platelets influence vascularized organ transplants from start to finish

A. D. Kirk, C. N. Morrell, W. M. Baldwin

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

62 Scopus citations


This review relates the basic functions of platelets to specific aspects of organ allograft rejection. Platelet activation can occur in the donor or recipient before transplantation as well as during antibody- and cell-mediated rejection. Biopsies taken during organ procurement from cadaver donors have documented that activated platelets are attached to vascular endothelial cells or leukocytes. In addition, many patients waiting for transplants have activated platelets due to the diseases that lead to organ failure or as a result of interventions used to support patients before and during transplantation. The contribution of platelets to hyperacute rejection of both allografts and xenografts is well recognized. Intravascular aggregates of platelets can also be prominent in experimental and clinical transplants that undergo acute antibody or cell-mediated rejection. In acute rejection, platelets can recruit mononuclear cells by secretion of chemokines. After contact, monocytes, macrophages and T cells interact with platelets through receptor/ligand pairs, including P-selectin/PSGL-1 and CD40/CD154. There is a potential for therapy to inhibit platelet mediated immune stimulation, but it is counterbalanced by the need to maintain coagulation in the perioperative period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-22
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Transplantation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemokines
  • Endothelial cells
  • Ischemia
  • Macrophage
  • Platelet
  • Rejection
  • T cell


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