We propose to demonstrate biologic and pathophysiologic roles for platelets via the chemokine platelet factor 4 (PF4) in T-helper cell homeostasis and chronic transplant immune responses. PF4 is best known for its role in the pathogenesis of heparin induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), but despite its high plasma concentration, biologic roles for PF4 are not well understood. Our new exciting data demonstrate that PF4 is needed to limit Th17 differentiation in both steady state and inflammatory conditions. We propose the hypothesis that platelets maintain T-helper balance in a PF4 dependent manner. This presents the novel concept of cross-talk between platelets and CD4+ T-cells and extends the role for platelets in immunity to an acquired immune role in the maintenance of T-helper balance. T-helper cells get their name from the fact that their cytokines influence many other cells such as increasing neutrophil and monocyte numbers and inflammatory profile and T-helper cells are necessary for B- cell antibody class switching. Therefore, platelet regulation of T-helper numbers and types implies a major role for platelets in immune homeostasis. T-helper cells are divided into Th1, Th2, Th17 and Tregs. Our data indicates that in the absence of PF4 there are greatly increased numbers of Th17 cells at steady state, and in a mouse model of vascularized cardiac transplant Th17 numbers increase greatly post-transplant. We have also discovered that PF4 expression and production is induced in T-cells post activation and T-cell PF4 also limits Th17 differentiation. As such we propose the following aims:
Aim 1 : To demonstrate that PF4 is a major mediator of T-helper differentiation.
Aim 2 : To demonstrate mechanisms for PF4 inhibition of Th17 differentiation. Results of our studies will impact many fields of inflammation related research, including transplant immune responses. Great progress has been made in reducing the incidence of acute transplant rejection, but less progress has been made in preventing chronic graft vasculopathy. Our results indicate a novel PF4 mediated pathway that regulates CD4+ T-cell responses to transplantation. These studies will also impact many other fields of inflammation and immune development by demonstrating a mechanism for platelet and T-cell cross-talk that directly affects immune development. We will use genetically modified thrombocytopenic and PF4 deficient mice in a chronic heart transplant model to pursue our novel and impactful studies.

Public Health Relevance

T-helper cells are critical regulators of immunity. We have identified platelet factor 4 (PF4) as a critical regulator of normal T-helper cell homeostasis and responses to transplantation. Our proposal will add novel insight into T-helper regulation in response to transplantation that will affect approaches to treating numerous other vascular and inflammatory diseases.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Hemostasis and Thrombosis Study Section (HT)
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Sarkar, Rita
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University of Rochester
Internal Medicine/Medicine
School of Medicine & Dentistry
United States
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