Shiga toxin binds to activated platelets

S. A. Ghosh, R. K. Polanowska-Grabowska, J. Fujii, T. Obrig, A. R.L. Gear

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is associated with acute renal failure in children and can be caused by Shiga toxin (Stx)-producing Escherichia coli. Thrombocytopenia and formation of renal thrombi are characteristic of HUS, suggesting that platelet activation is involved in its pathogenesis. However, whether Shiga toxin directly activates platelets is controversial. The present study evaluates if potential platelet sensitization during isolation by different procedures influences platelet interaction with Shiga toxin. Platelets isolated from sodium citrate anticoagulated blood were exposed during washing to EDTA and higher g forces than platelets prepared from acid-citrate-dextrose (ACD) plasma. Platelet binding of Stx was significantly higher in EDTA-washed preparations relative to ACD-derived platelets. Binding of Stx was also increased with ACD-derived platelets when activated with thrombin (1 U mL-1) and exposure of the Gb3 Stx receptor was detected only on platelets subjected to EDTA, higher g forces or thrombin. EDTA-exposed platelets lost their normal discoid shape and were larger. P-selectin (CD62P) exposure was significantly increased in EDTA-washed preparations relative to ACD-derived platelets, suggesting platelet activation. Taken together, these results suggest that direct binding of Stx occurs only on 'activated' platelets rather than on resting platelets. The ability of Stx to interact with previously activated platelets may be an important element in understanding the pathogenesis of HUS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-506
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Aggregation
  • EDTA
  • HUS
  • Platelets
  • Shiga toxin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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