Clot Retraction : Cellular Mechanisms and Inhibitors, Measuring Methods, and Clinical Implications

Platelets have important functions in hemostasis. Best investigated is the aggregation of platelets for primary hemostasis and their role as the surface for coagulation leading to fibrin- and clot-formation. Importantly, the function of platelets does not end with clot formation. Instead, platelets are responsible for clot retraction through the concerted action of the activated αIIbβ3 receptors on the surface of filopodia and the platelet’s contractile apparatus binding and pulling at the fibrin strands. Meanwhile, the signal transduction events leading to clot retraction have been investigated thoroughly, and several targets to inhibit clot retraction have been demonstrated. Clot retraction is a physiologically important mechanism allowing: (1) the close contact of platelets in primary hemostasis, easing platelet aggregation and intercellular communication, (2) the reduction of wound size, (3) the compaction of red blood cells to a polyhedrocyte infection-barrier, and (4) reperfusion in case of thrombosis. Several methods have been developed to measure clot retraction that have been based on either the measurement of clot volume or platelet forces. Concerning the importance of clot retraction in inborn diseases, the failure of clot retraction in Glanzmann thrombasthenia is characterized by a bleeding phenotype. Concerning acquired diseases, altered clot retraction has been demonstrated in patients with coronary heart disease, stroke, bronchial asthma, uremia, lupus erythematodes, and other diseases. However, more studies on the diagnostic and prognostic value of clot retraction with methods that have to be standardized are necessary.


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