Apoptotic pathways in platelets are important for their survival and function. Platelet apoptosis may be involved in the pathogenesis of immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), an autoimmune-mediated disease. In contrast to the intrinsic apoptosis pathway, not much is known about the extrinsic pathway mechanisms in platelets.
To investigate the expression of proteins involved in the extrinsic apoptosis pathway, including the death receptors, adaptor and regulator proteins in human platelets. To determine a possible trigger of the extrinsic apoptosis pathway in platelets.
To investigate the expression of key markers of the extrinsic pathway we used targeted immunofluorescence and flow cytometry assays. To study their expression and interaction we performed Western blotting and co-immunoprecipitation. Treated platelets with different apoptosis triggers were subjected to flow cytometry.
We could identify the protein expression of the pro-apoptotic proteins TRADD (Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor type 1- Associated DEATH Domain protein), TRAF2/5, (TNF Associated Factor) and DEDAF (Death Effector Domain- Associated Factor), FADD (Fas-Associated protein with death domain) as well as the anti-apoptotic proteins DJ-1 (Deglycase 1) and c-FLIP in human platelets. ABT-737 treatment induced a disruption in the co-localization of DJ-1 with FADD. Platelets treated with ABT-737 showed an activation in caspase-3 and -8. The exposure to TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor), FasL (Fas ligand), and TWEAK or to plasma derived from ITP patients, did not lead to changes in caspase-3 and -8 activation in platelets.
Human platelets express some proteins of the extrinsic apoptosis pathway which can be modulated only by ABT-737 treatment. However so far, no other apoptosis trigger or interaction with an external receptor have been yet identified.