Acute myocardial infarction (AMI) is the single leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide. A key component of AMI therapy is the timely reopening of occluded vessels to prevent further ischaemic damage to the myocardium. However, reperfusion of the ischaemic myocardium can itself trigger reperfusion injury causing up to 50% of the overall infarct size. In recent years, considerable research has been devoted to understanding the pathogenesis of ischaemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury and platelets have emerged as a major contributing factor. This review summarizes the role of platelets in the pathogenesis of I/R injury and highlights the potential of platelet-directed therapeutics to minimize cardiac I/R injury. Activated platelets infiltrate specifically into the ischaemic/reperfused myocardium and contribute to I/R injury by the formation of microthrombi, enhanced platelet–leucocyte aggregation, and the release of potent vasoconstrictor and pro-inflammatory molecules. This review demonstrates the benefits of platelet inhibition beyond their well-described anti-thrombotic effect and highlights the direct cardioprotective role of anti-platelet drugs. In particular, the inhibition of COX, the P2Y12 receptor and the GPIIb/IIIa receptor has demonstrated the potential to attenuate I/R injury. Moreover, targeting of drug candidates or regenerative cells to the activated platelets accumulated within the ischaemic/reperfused myocardium shows remarkable potential to protect the myocardium from I/R injury. Overall, activated platelets play a key role in the pathogenesis of I/R injury. Their direct inhibition as well as their use as epitopes for site-directed therapy is a unique and promising therapeutic approach for the prevention of I/R injury and ultimately the preservation of cardiac function.
- Anti-platelet drugs
- Cardiac ischaemia/reperfusion injury
- Myocardial infarction
- Targeted therapy