Research highlight

Racial differences in platelet function

Nature Medicine

November 11, 2013

Platelets in blood taken from black participants are more readily activated than those from white participants, reports a study published online this week in Nature Medicine. As activation of platelets can lead to excessive blood clotting, this work may help to explain why black individuals have lower survival rates from coronary heart disease compared to white individuals.

Paul Bray and his colleagues compared platelets from 154 healthy participants who self-identified their race as either black or white, and found that platelets from black individuals had decreased levels of the microRNA miR-376c. This decreased level in turn led to increased amounts of its target protein. This protein is needed for full platelet activation by thrombin, an enzyme that promotes blood clotting.

These findings highlight the concept that racial differences in clinical responses to anti-thrombotic drugs need to be taken into account, particularly in the case of drugs designed to inhibit thrombin activity.

doi: 10.1038/nm.3385

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