Aims: Aspirin has proven clinical efficacy in limiting the thrombotic complications of atherosclerotic vascular disease but its mechanism of action remains unclear. Recent evidence suggests the anti-platelet action of aspirin may be partly mediated by neutrophil derived nitric oxide (NO). The aim of the study was to determine the effects of aspirin on thrombin-induced platelet expression of the α-granule membrane protein, P-selectin, and the platelet surface glycoprotein required for aggregation, GPIIb-IIIa, and to assess whether this was enhanced by the presence of neutrophils. Methods: Platelet P-selectin and GPIIb-IIIa receptor expression were assessed flow cytometric analysis of washed platelets stimulated with thrombin (0.025 iu ml-1 sub aggregatory concentration) alone or after pre-incubation with aspirin (0.05, 0.1, 0.5, 1.0 mg ml-1) either in the presence or absence of neutrophils (100 platelets per neutrophil). NO release was determined by assay of nitrite in the supernatants from parallel samples. Results In preliminary aggregation studies, aspirin at all concentrations inhibited arachidonic acid but not thrombin-induced platelet aggregation. Similarly, aspirin at all concentrations failed to inhibit thrombin-induced platelet P-selectin or GPIIb-IIIa expression and this was not influenced by the presence of neutrophils. A reduction in P-selectin and GPIIb-IIIa receptor density on non-activated platelets co-incubated with unstimulated neutrophils was associated with NO release from neutrophils, but this was not enhanced by the addition of aspirin. Conclusions: These results confirm that thrombin-induced platelet α-granule release, with consequent P-selectin expression, and platelet GPIIb-IIIa expression, are not affected by aspirin inhibition of cyclo-oxygenase and suggest that the anti-thrombotic efficacy of aspirin in vivo may partly depend on other mechanisms. This study did not demonstrate an effect of neutrophils or neutrophil derived NO on aspirin inhibition of platelet adhesion receptor expression.
- Nitric oxide