What are Platelets in Blood?

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 04/01/2024

The living body is a complex yet well-designed intricate system, in which each part and component plays a vital role in the functioning of our lives. Blood plays a crucial role in circulating oxygen and food to our body cells, thus maintaining our body equilibrium.

Among the three components of blood, red blood cells, white blood cells, and blood platelets, blood platelets stand out as a very tiny but indispensable component that contributes to the overall health of the living being. It is an essential part of the circulation system in our body.

In this expansive blog, we will delve into the functions, constituents, structure, disorders, and much more of this small blood component which is also called ‘Thrombocytes’.

Importance and Function of Platelets in Blood

Platelets are important for blood clotting and healing of wounds. When you get injured, there is a flow of platelets to the area of the injury to stop bleeding. Platelets in blood function to support blood clotting and aid in repairing tissue repairs.

The following are some vital functions of platelets:

Wound Healing

Wounds usually take four to six weeks to heal. Platelets help speed up this process by causing blood clots. The presence of platelets prevents blood loss at sites of vascular injury.

They favour thrombin generation and fibrin formation which helps in forming procrastination which aids in wound healing. However, there is one exception to it: chronic wounds that take more time to heal.

Stopping Bleeding

At the spot of injury, platelets clump together to stop bleeding quickly to prevent blood loss. This clumping mechanism is essential for quickly stopping bleeding and preventing excessive blood loss.

The ability of platelets to form a barrier at the injured site is a primary defence mechanism that maintains vascular integrity and aids the overall stability of the circulatory system.

Strengthening of Blood Clots

Thrombelastography is a process through which the strength of blood clots is measured. Blood clots are required to be strong enough to repair the blood vessels damaged.

These are made of platelets, red blood cells, and protein. Platelets, in collaboration with red blood cells and proteins, contribute to the formation of resilient blood clots.

Immunity Boosting

This is a nontraditional function of blood platelets. It has been found that platelets play a crucial role in immunity and kill antigens like bacteria, viruses, and even tumours.

While platelets release microparticles in the blood such as proteins, enzymes, and other small molecules, they interact with other foreign cells and alter or modulate their function for a good cause to the living body.

Constituents of Blood Platelets

Platelets are made of various components. Each of these elements plays a crucial role in their functions, especially in the wound-healing process. The main constituents of the platelets include:

Cell Membrane

This is the outermost layer of the platelet. This contains different receptors that facilitate platelet aggregation and adhesion at the site of vascular injury.

The cell membrane serves as the outermost layer of platelets. It is a complex structure consisting of a lipid bilayer embedded with glycoproteins and receptors. This integral component plays a fundamental role in hemostasis by facilitating platelet adhesion and aggregation at the site of vascular injury.

As the initial point of interaction between platelets and damaged blood vessels, the cell membrane sets the stage for the intricate process of blood clotting, ensuring a rapid and targeted response to maintain vascular integrity.

Cytoplasm

This is under the cell membrane and contains granules and a variety of organelles. The cytoplasm is the place where this platelet substance is stored and released during the time of the blood clotting process.

The cytoplasm of platelets is a dynamic region housing various organelles and granules. Functioning as a storage site for crucial platelet substances, the cytoplasm plays a pivotal role in blood clotting.

Within its confines are essential organelles such as the endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, and mitochondria, collectively contributing to the orchestration of platelet activities.

Granules

There are 3 categories of granules which are found in the platelets:

Alpha Granules

Alpha granules contain proteins like fibrinogen and growth factors, playing a central role in promoting wound healing and tissue repair.

Dense Granules

Dense granules store molecules such as adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and serotonin, crucial for platelet activation and the subsequent clotting cascade.

Lysosomes

Lysosomes are housing enzymes that further enhance platelet functionality by aiding in the breakdown of substances.

Mitochondria

Mitochondria within platelets perform a critical role in supplying energy during the processes of activation and aggregation. By generating adenosine triphosphate (ATP), these organelles sustain the functionality of platelets throughout the clotting process.

This energy supply is essential for the dynamic events that occur during platelet activation, involving the role of mitochondria in the intricate machinery of hemostasis.

Glycogen

This is the stored form of the protein which provides energy. This reserve becomes particularly crucial during clotting processes when platelets face increased energy demands.

By enabling platelets to meet these heightened requirements, glycogen ensures the sustained and effective contribution of platelets to the prevention of excessive bleeding and the facilitation of tissue repair.

The above constituents of the platelets make them perform their functions in the blood clotting process such as aggregating the clot and releasing substances that promote clotting and wound healing.

Structure of Blood Platelet

Out of RBC, WBC, and platelets, platelets are the smallest and thus the lightest part of the blood. They are a golden colour constituent in the blood. Circulating and inactivated platelets are bi-convex discoid (lens-shaped) structures that are 2-3 µm in diameter.

Activated platelets are covered with cell membrane projections which cover their surface. They contain special parts called mitochondria. The outer layer of platelets, made of a mix of fats, is where various surface receptors and signalling spots are found.

The platelet has a tunnel system called the open canalicular system (OCS) that connects with the outer layer. It helps things get in and out of the platelet, and it is also involved in making filopodia during activation. Let us also discuss its development process.

Development of Blood Platelet

Platelet production is regulated by hormones in the kidney and liver called ‘Megakaryocytes’. Each megakaryocyte produces between 1,000 - 3,000 blood platelets during an organism's lifetime.

On average, an adult healthy human body produces one hundred billion blood platelets daily. Some platelets are reserved in the spleen, and when splenic contraction in the nervous system increases, they are released as required.

An active blood platelet’s life span is 8-9 days. The duration of circulating platelets is exhaustively in the hands of internal apoptotic regulation. While new platelets are formed, old ones are destroyed in the phagocytosis process carried out in the spleen and the liver.

The platelet activation status depends on the concentration of intracellular calcium concentration.

A blood platelet goes through the process of adhesion where collagen is bound to it.

Next, is the activation stage, where calcium is accumulated and induces platelet inhibition, and evokes aggregation.

Platelet plugging and coagulation occurs simultaneously which triggers the circulations

Blood Platelet Count Test

Keeping track of your blood platelet count is crucial for healthy living. A platelets blood test checks how many platelets are in your blood. Platelets help your blood to clot when you get hurt.

If you have too few platelets, it could mean you have health problems like cancer or infections. On the other hand, having too many platelets puts you at risk for blood clots or stroke.

To check your blood platelet count you can visit a nearby clinic or pathology for a CBC (Complete Blood Count) test. This helps you ascertain a healthy platelet count in your blood.

Normal Blood Platelet Count

A typical platelet normal range count is between 150,000 and 400,000 platelets per microliter of blood. This range is carefully balanced to meet the body's hemostatic needs.

Low Blood Platelet Count

Low blood platelet counts happen when the number of platelets in the blood falls below a normal range. A platelet count below the normal range is termed thrombocytopenia, and it can have various causes. A lower platelet blood count can lead to problems with bleeding.

What Leads to Low Blood Platelet

Several factors are responsible for low platelet count causes in the blood. Here are the major factors:

Bone Marrow Issue: Platelets are produced in bone marrow, so any issue that causes any malfunctioning of the bone marrow may cause the platelet count to fall.

Autoimmune Diseases: Diseases or situations like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, where the body’s immune system does not function well.

Viral Infections: Viral infections, particularly hepatitis C, can impact the liver, affecting platelet production and contributing to thrombocytopenia.

Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption may suppress bone marrow activity, impacting platelet production and contributing to thrombocytopenia.

Pregnancy-Related Conditions: Gestational thrombocytopenia is a mild decrease in platelet count that some pregnant women may experience, typically without serious consequences.

How to Cure Low Platelet Count

Foods to Increase Blood Platelet Count

Following are some foods that can increase the count of blood platelets to a certain extent:

Vitamin C- Broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, pineapple, green or red bell peppers.

Vitamin B12- Clams, eggs and milk.

Folate- Orange, Peas, kidney beans, peanuts.

Iron- Lentils, pumpkin seeds and mussels.

Eating nutrient-rich food helps in increasing platelet count and also purifies the blood.

Medications and Treatment to Increase Blood Platelet Count

The medications for blood platelets depend on the types of diseases an individual is facing due to platelet loss. For the immune system, doctors can prescribe drugs to boost the platelet count.

If the blood platelet count is significantly less then doctors can infuse blood packed with platelets in the patient’s body. This is commonly known as ‘Transfusion’. In this, blood of a healthy donor is transferred to the patient with a low platelet count.

Blood Platelet Functional Disorder

When the count is too low, individuals may experience symptoms such as easy bruising, prolonged bleeding, or petechiae (small red or purple spots on the skin).

Conversely, an elevated platelet count may lead to abnormal blood clotting, increasing the risk of conditions like deep vein thrombosis or stroke. High platelet count disease is called ‘Thrombocythemia’.

When platelets don't work properly, it can lead to excessive bleeding. This dysfunction can either be inherited, meaning people are born with it, or acquired later in life.

Inherited Platelet Disorders

These kinds of disorders can be seen in individuals by birth. Inherited disorders may come with additional issues like skin problems, immune system abnormalities, or reduced kidney function.

Acquired Platelet Disorders

Platelet problems can also develop later in a lifetime due to certain drugs or diseases. Medications like aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and antiplatelet drugs can affect platelet function.

Donation of Blood Platelet

Platelet donation is the process in which the platelets of the donors are collected and stored to cure people with low platelet counts. These include people going through treatments like chemotherapy or bone marrow transplantation.

The process of platelet donation involves drawing blood from the donor and passing it through a machine that does the separation of platelets from the blood.

After the platelet is separated from the blood, the remaining component is sent back to the donor’s body. Usually, this process takes longer than blood donation, typically between 1.5 to 2.5 hours.

A very important thing to ponder is platelets have a shorter shelf life and thus regular donations become crucial. Donors can donate platelets more frequently than blood, generally every 7 days up to 24 times in a week.

Medical Insurance with Tata AIG

For living a healthy lifestyle, it is crucial to ensure the efficiency of different body systems and their constituents. Sometimes, this comes with uncertainty and isn’t wholly dependent on healthy wellbeing. In that situation, having health insurance saves you from causing the stress of medical expenses.

Our health insurance plans are flexible and available as per individuals' requirements and convenience. Some of the best health insurance plans are available at very affordable rates with ease of purchase.

To Encapsulate

In brief, blood platelets are vital for clotting, wound healing, and immune responses. Their complex structure involves the cell membrane, cytoplasm, granules, mitochondria, and glycogen. Maintaining a healthy platelet count is crucial for overall well-being, with tests helping detect any issues.

Low platelet counts may require dietary adjustments, medications, or transfusions. Platelet functional disorders emphasise the importance of proper functioning to prevent excessive bleeding.

Platelet donation is a noble act aiding those with depleted counts during medical treatments. Caring for health is crucial but with that, it is also significant to have a health insurance plan to safeguard your health in case of urgency.

FAQS

What diseases are caused by abnormal platelet count?

Abnormal platelet counts, whether too high or too low, can lead to health issues. Thrombocytopenia causes prolonged bleeding, while thrombocytosis increases clotting risks. Conditions like leukaemia, HUS, and inflammatory diseases show platelet imbalance impact, underscoring the need for prompt diagnosis and treatment.

What to eat to lower blood platelet count?

To potentially lower blood platelet count, include foods like leafy greens, pineapple, turmeric, omega-3-rich fish, garlic, berries, ginger, papaya, olive oil, and green tea in your diet. However, consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice, as dietary changes alone may not be sufficient for comprehensive health management.

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