S. Braune, F. Jung, J.H. Küpper, Institute of Biotechnology, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus‑Senftenberg, Germany
In view of the increasing life expectancy, a fundamental understanding of age-related physiological processes appears crucial for improving the therapeutical management in elderly people. Particularly atherosclerosis is a disease, which can progress over decades and result in cardiovascular disease (CVD) such as stroke, peripheral- and/or coronary-artery disease. To treat CVD, anti-platelet therapies are routinely applied and especially after myocardial infarction lifelong. However, thrombotic diseases remain the leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide.
Here we discuss the function of human platelets in relation to age and particularly in people of old age. The available data indicate an age-related increase in platelet activation while the full e.g. aggregatory potential decreases – a process termed platelet exhaustion. We further discuss that extrapolation of data from middle age people does not necessarily predict platelet function in those of old age, despite both may appear apparently healthy. Major challenges remain in distinguishing between age-related changes and those associated with other progressing diseases like e.g. cancer. In summary, this emphasizes the need for systematic approaches to improve our understanding of platelet function in the elderly.