Autonomous role of Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome platelet deficiency in inducing autoimmunity and inflammation

Lucia Sereni, Maria Carmina Castiello, Francesco Marangoni, Achille Anselmo, Dario di Silvestre, Sara Motta, Elena Draghici, Stefano Mantero, Adrian J. Thrasher, Silvia Giliani, Alessandro Aiuti, Pierluigi Mauri, Luigi D. Notarangelo, Marita Bosticardo, Anna Villa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS) is an X-linked immunodeficiency characterized by eczema, infections, and susceptibility to autoimmunity and malignancies. Thrombocytopenia is a constant finding, but its pathogenesis remains elusive. Objective: To dissect the basis of the WAS platelet defect, we used a novel conditional mouse model (CoWas) lacking Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (WASp) only in the megakaryocytic lineage in the presence of a normal immunologic environment, and in parallel we analyzed samples obtained from patients with WAS. Methods: Phenotypic and functional characterization of megakaryocytes and platelets in mutant CoWas mice and patients with WAS with and without autoantibodies was performed. Platelet antigen expression was examined through a protein expression profile and cluster proteomic interaction network. Platelet immunogenicity was tested by using ELISAs and B-cell and platelet cocultures. Results: CoWas mice showed increased megakaryocyte numbers and normal thrombopoiesis in vitro, but WASp-deficient platelets had short lifespan and high expression of activation markers. Proteomic analysis identified signatures compatible with defects in cytoskeletal reorganization and metabolism yet surprisingly increased antigen-processing capabilities. In addition, WASp-deficient platelets expressed high levels of surface and soluble CD40 ligand and were capable of inducing B-cell activation in vitro. WASp-deficient platelets were highly immunostimulatory in mice and triggered the generation of antibodies specific for WASp-deficient platelets, even in the context of a normal immune system. Patients with WAS also showed platelet hyperactivation and increased plasma soluble CD40 ligand levels correlating with the presence of autoantibodies. Conclusion: Overall, these findings suggest that intrinsic defects in WASp-deficient platelets decrease their lifespan and dysregulate immune responses, corroborating the role of platelets as modulators of inflammation and immunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1272-1284
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2018


  • autoantibodies
  • autoimmunity
  • CD40 ligand
  • platelet deficiency
  • Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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