Potential role of platelets for atherosclerotic events in rheumatoid arthritis

Rosa Vona, Manuela Di Franco, Lucrezia Gambardella, Anna C. Di Lollo, Cristina Iannuccelli, Guido Valesini, Walter Malorni, Elisabetta Straface

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease with increased risk of cardiovascular events and mortality that can be attributed to accelerated atherosclerosis. This pilot study aimed to investigate if changes in blood parameters were compatible with atherosclerotic events in RA patients. To this aim, 45 RA women (aged more than 18 years), and 25 age and gender-matched healthy donors (HD) were included. Biomarkers of oxidative stress, platelet activation and platelet aggregation were analysed in RA patients at baseline and after six months of treatment with disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Flow cytometry analysis revealed that ca. 4% of platelets was in activated state (evaluated in term of Annexin V and PAC-1 positivity) in RA patients at baseline, and that the 76% of platelets displayed mitochondrial hyperpolarization. Moreover, platelets from RA patients at baseline aggregated more than those from HD after whole blood treatment with adenosine diphosphate. Interestingly, platelet aggregation in patients at baseline positively correlated with disease activity measured by DAS28 score. After six months of treatment with DMARDs, platelet activation and platelet aggregation reached values comparable to those of HD. Our preliminary data suggest that platelets might play an active role in the atherosclerosis occurring in RA patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1888-1896
Number of pages9
JournalFEBS Open Bio
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2018


  • atherosclerosis
  • inflammation
  • oxidative stress
  • platelet activation
  • platelet aggregation
  • rheumatoid arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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