Platelets are anuclear blood cells originating from bone megakaryocytes. Despite being anuclear, their number is maintained by apoptosis, a process of programmed cell death. The rate of apoptotic death of platelets is accelerated by oxidative and shear stress, ex vivo storage (blood banking conditions) and certain pathophysiological disorders. These factors initiate apoptotic events through the mitochondria- mediated intrinsic pathway. Besides, apoptotic platelets also release phosphatidylserine-positive membrane fractions called microparticles, which cause fibrin deposition and thrombus formation, and are involved in the promulgation of a host of disease conditions including cardiovascular diseases. In this context, several phytochemicals have been reported to be cardioprotective and work by inhibiting platelet aggregation or by dissolving the fibrin clots. Besides, ample reports focus on the positive effects of phytochemicals on normal physiology of platelets, but do not focus on their adverse effects on platelets. Moreover, platelets are reported to be extremely sensitive to therapeutic components in the blood. For example, resveratrol and thymoquinone are hitherto known compounds to possess proapoptotic effects on platelets. In contrast, cinnamtannin B1 and crocin exhibit antiapoptotic effects. Thus, the current review aims to elucidate the underlying mechanisms through which the phytochemicals mediate their effects on platelet apoptosis. Moreover, the need for scrutiny of therapeutic compounds for their effects on platelet functions before including them in treatment regimen is also being emphasized.
Keywords: Cinnamtannin B1, crocin, microparticles, platelet apoptosis, resveratrol, thymoquinone, Phytochemicals, Biological Overview, bone megakaryocytes, apoptotic death