Journal Article

Enhancement of human platelet aggregation and secretion induced by rapamycin.

A Babinska, M S Markell, M O Salifu, M Akoad, Y H Ehrlich and E Kornecki

in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation

Volume 13, issue 12, pages 3153-3159
Published in print December 1998 | ISSN: 0931-0509
Published online December 1998 | e-ISSN: 1460-2385 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ndt/13.12.3153
Enhancement of human platelet aggregation and secretion induced by rapamycin.

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BACKGROUND: Rapamycin is a new immunosuppressive drug of the macrolide type. Despite binding to one of the FK-binding proteins as the initial step in intracellular action, further effects differ from those of the other fungally derived macrolides, cyclosporine and tacrolimus. We have previously demonstrated an enhancement of agonist-mediated platelet activation by cyclosporine and tacrolimus which was associated with increased phosphorylation of two intracellular platelet proteins, p20 and p40. Because rapamycin utilizes the same class of binding proteins as tacrolimus, but its action is not associated with the inhibition of calcineurin, we postulated that if the stimulatory effect of cyclosporine or tacrolimus was due to calcineurin inhibition, rapamycin should not affect platelets in a similar fashion. METHODS: Normal, washed human platelets were treated with various concentrations of rapamycin (from ng to microg/ml), and pre-incubated at 37 degrees C with rapamycin for various periods (1-30 min). Several platelet functional parameters were measured in samples treated with rapamycin and these parameters were compared with control platelet samples treated with the vehicle for the same period. Platelet aggregations following exposure to ADP or to the thrombin equivalent, TRAP-6, were measured as changes in optical transmission in a Chronolog lumi-aggregometer. Each experiment was repeated at three or more times and the mean results were used for statistical comparison. RESULTS: Rapamycin-treated platelets demonstrated an increase in their dose- and time-dependent sensitivity to ADP, resulting in a significantly enhanced primary wave of ADP-induced platelet aggregation followed by a secondary wave of aggregation, indicative of granule secretion. Furthermore, rapamycin-treated platelets showed significantly enhanced sensitivity to TRAP-6 as demonstrated by an increase in the initial velocity of aggregation, an increase in their maximal extent of aggregation and an enhancement of granular ATP secretion. Concentrations of rapamycin in the ng range, as well as short pre-incubation times (within min), were sufficient to cause significant enhancement of agonist-induced platelet aggregation and secretion (P < 0.001) as compared with their vehicle controls. CONCLUSIONS: Rapamycin significantly potentiates agonist-induced platelet aggregation in a time- and dose-dependent manner. As these findings are similar to those observed with the other fungal macrolides, we hypothesize that inhibition of calcineurin may not be necessary for the increase in intracellular protein phosphorylation observed following exposure of platelets to cyclosporine or tacrolimus. Whether the rapamycin-induced enhancement of sensitivity to agonists and platelet hyperaggregability explains the thrombocytopenia observed in patients when high doses of rapamycin are administered in the clinical setting, and whether these effects are synergistic with cyclosporine, are questions which remain to be investigated.

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Subjects: Nephrology

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