Platelets are critical regulators of vascular integrity. Vessel wall injury triggers sudden platelet activation and platelet plug formation, followed by coagulant activity and the formation of fibrin-containing thrombi which occlude the site of injury. These events are crucial to limit blood loss at sites of tissue trauma but may also block diseased vessels leading to ischemia and infarction of vital organs. Besides these well-established functions, platelets are increasingly recognized for their critical role in processes, such as inflammation, wound healing and tumorigenesis. One major objective of our research therefore is to understand the role of platelet membrane glycoproteins and their signaling pathways in normal hemostasis, thrombotic and thrombo-inflammatory diseases, as well as in cancer. Furthermore, we investigate the mechanisms underlying platelet biogenesis under both physiological and pathological conditions, mainly by focusing on cytoskeletal components and their regulators.
We use genetically modified mouse strains with defined defects in platelet receptors or signaling molecules to study the processes of platelet formation, adhesion and activation in vitro and in vivo. Our experiments serve as a basis for the development of antibody-based antithrombotic therapies which are then evaluated in murine models of arterial thrombosis and systemic inflammation.