Platelets have a predominant role in haemostasis, the maintenance of blood volume and emerging roles as innate immune cells, in wound healing and in inflammatory responses. Platelets express receptors that are important for platelet adhesion, aggregation, participation in inflammatory responses, and for triggering degranulation and enhancing thrombin generation. They carry a cargo of granules bearing enzymes, adhesion molecules, growth factors and cytokines, and have the ability to generate reactive oxygen species. The platelet is at the frontline of a host of cellular responses to invading pathogens, injury, and infection. Perhaps because of this intrinsic responsibility of a platelet to rapidly respond to thrombotic, pathological and immunological factors as part of their infantry role; platelets are susceptible to targeted attack by the adaptive immune system. Such attacks are often transitory but result in aberrant platelet activation as well as significant loss of platelet numbers and platelet function, paradoxically leading to elevated risks of both thrombosis and bleeding. Here, we discuss the main molecular events underlying immune-based platelet disorders with specific focus on events occurring at the platelet surface leading to activation and clearance.

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