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Functional Cell Biology

Platelet Functional Assays

Individuals with reduced platelet count or function have bleeding tendencies, whereas those with elevated values are at greater risk of heart attacks and stroke.  Interindividual variation in platelet parameters like their function, count, and volume is to a large extent inherited and therefore stable over time.  The principal aim of our research is to identify genetic sequence variants that regulate these parameters, thus highlighting genes required for platelet production and thereby linked to cardiovascular diseases.

To support this endeavour we have established the Cambridge Platelet Function Cohort (PFC) from the Cambridge BioResource. The platelet function of almost 1,000 volunteers in this cohort has been characterised following activation with adenosine 5′-diphosphate or the collagen mimetic CRP-XL.

The PFC has been used to study the production and signaling activity of glycoprotein VI (GPVI) an important platelet receptor for collagen, and for in silico association studies of other genes identified by the Genome Wide Association Scan for platelet count and volume. This revealed that common sequence variation at Chromosome 7q22.3 exerts not only an effect on the volume of platelets but also on their function.

Key people: Dr Kate DownesProf. Willem Ouwehand