Last time you got a paper cut, platelets in your blood teamed together to stop your bleeding. But did you know that they also help fight infection. I’m Kelly Metcalf Pate, and my lab studies how platelets help stop HIV infected cells from entering organs to hide. To get in, Infected cells need to squeeze between the cells lining your blood vessels. During infection, we see platelets line up along and strengthen these barriers which may prevent infected cells from escaping blood vessels just like they stop blood cells from leaking out following that paper cut. HIV infected patients often have low platelet numbers but are not treated for this unless they bleed excessively.
If low platelet numbers are truly hurting the body’s ability to defend itself from HIV, therapies that increase the number of platelets may better protect patients in the future. .