Loss-of-function mutations of the the ATP-binding cassette-1 (ABCA1) gene are the cause of Tangier disease (TD) in homozygous subjects and familial HDL deficiency (FHD) in heterozygous subjects. These disorders are characterized by reduced plasma HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) and altered efflux of cholesterol from cells. Previous studies in TD patients and ABCA1-/- murine models reported defects in platelet count, morphology, and function, but the issue is still controversial. We analyzed three subjects with low to very low HDL-C levels due to the loss-of-function mutations of the ABCA1 gene. Two related patients with FHD were heterozygous carriers of two mutations on the same ABCA1 allele; one, with TD, was homozygous for a different mutation. Mild to moderate thrombocytopenia was observed in all the patients. No morphological platelet abnormalities were detected under optical or EM. History of moderate bleeding tendency was recorded only in one of the FHD patients. Only limited alterations in platelet aggregation and activation of the integrin αIIbβ3 were observed in one FHD patient. While α-granule secretion (P-selectin), content, and secretion of platelet δ-granules (serotonin, ATP, and ADP) and thromboxane (TX) A2 synthesis were normal in all the patients, the expression of lysosomal CD63, in response to some agonists, was reduced in TD patients. In conclusion, three patients carrying ABCA1 genetic variants had low platelet count, with the lowest values observed in TD, not associated with major alterations in platelet morphology and response to agonists or bleeding.
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