The Role of Platelets in Malarial Acute Lung Injury and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome: A World of Possibilities
In recent decades our understanding of platelets’ role in immune response has increased. Traditionally platelets were considered as bleeding-stopping and thrombosis-causing cells. In recent years the platelets’ role in malarial innate and adaptive immune responses is being recognized. Platelets play critical role in pathogenesis of malaria infection leading to variety of outcomes. It is being realized that platelets play dual role in case of malaria (i) by preventing early stage exponential growth of parasitemia (ii) promoting exaggerated immune responses later. Platelets role in pathogenesis of severe and cerebral malaria has been widely studied. However their role in malaria related acute lung injury and respiratory distress has gained less attention. Recently the presence of active megakaryocytes and proplatelets have been explained in human lungs. Simultaneously, the platelets role in pathogenesis of acute lung injury and respiratory distress (ALI/ARDS) was also recognized. This gives a hint that there is a possible association of platelets with malaria related respiratory diseases as well. ALI/ARDS are characterized by lung edema due to increased permeability of the alveolar-capillary barrier and subsequent impairment of arterial oxygenation. In this review we have attempted to establish the importance of role of platelets in malaria related acute lungs injury and malaria acute respiratory distress syndrome and try to explain the underlying mechanism of this process. In ALI/ARDS, including those caused by malaria, platelets participate sequestration to the vascular bundle facilitating the recruitment of immune cells viz. neutrophils. Additionally, they secrete or induce the secretion of chemokines that result into vascular damage.