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Immunopharmacology of Platelets (Handbook of Immunopharmacology)

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Although anucleated, blood platelets are extraordinarily efficient cells and still the subject of fruitful investigations in haematology, in vascular physiology, in biochemistry, and more recently in immunology and in physiopathology where their metabolism has been implicated as a source of potential effector compounds. It is challenging for cell physiologists that these blood elements reset so strongly to environmental stimuli, expressing a tremendous and rapid modification of their shape and metabolism, with only their intrinsic and relatively locked properties and without the active machinery of the nucleus. Platelet literature already covers yards of shelves in haematology departments, in blood centre libraries and in atherosclerosis research laboratories. Why produce a new book in such a well-explored area? It is to the credit of Dr Clive Page, the series editor of The Handbook of Immunopharma~ology, that he has focused thought over the last decade, by his own investigations and by a careful survey of the literature, on the involvement of blood platelets outside their classical field of application, and more precisely in physiopathological mechanisms of allergy and inflammation. We have logically let him present an introductory chapter, which summarizes, with great precision what will be found in more detail in the other contributions to this work.

Dr Boris Vargaftig, at the Institute Pasteur in Paris, has contributed largely to the development of animal models in allergic and inflammatory disorders, and is particularly well qualified to present here, with the collaboration of Dr Anthony Coyle, a review of such models for investigating the potential implications of platelets in these pathologies. The results they, and others, have obtained with animal substitutes have thrown some light on a possible place for platelets in the cell network of acute inflammation or allergic reactions, and more particularly, asthma. As already stressed above, another fascinating aspect of platelets is the absence of a nucleus, which strengthens the importance of the membrane and receptors in the physiological mechanisms of thrombocyte activation, together with the understanding of the intracellular signalling pathways sustaining their haematological functions. The rapidly moving knowledge in this domain has been carefully covered by the specialists in the matter, Dr Michael Kroll and Dr Andrew Schafer in Houston. Although specifically centred on biochemical mechanisms leading to aggregation, their extensive analysis brings interesting perspectives to the potential participation of platelets in immunological and physiopathological processes. Their contribution is perfectly complemented by that of Dr John McGregor, in Lyon, which has taken into account the active role played by adhesion molecules and membrane-bound ligands in mediating the platelet involvement in inflammation.
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