Landsteiner lecture by Alice Assinger | Platelets in Infection: A Battle of Wits

Medical priority Bleeding & Hemostasis
Auditorium Sanquin
Plesmanlaan 125
1066 CX Amsterdam
The Netherlands

On 15 April 2024, Prof Alice Assinger PhD (Center for Physiology and Pharmacology, Medical University of Vienna, Austria) will give a Landsteiner Lecture on 'Platelets in Infection: A Battle of Wits'.

Host: Rick Kapur

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Viral and bacterial infections commonly activate platelets, contributing to increased hemostatic complications. Low platelet counts act as a surrogate marker for poor prognosis in infectious diseases. The multifaceted causes of platelet dysfunction involve direct interactions with pathogens and host inflammatory responses, leading to thrombocytopenia. While platelets play a crucial role in modulating immune responses, they also contribute significantly to immunothrombosis, heightening the risk of thrombotic events.
The role of platelets in infectious diseases often displays a biphasic pattern: initial hyper-activation transitions to a state of exhaustion and hypo-responsiveness, combined with low platelet counts, promoting bleeding events. Consequently, infectious diseases amplify both thrombotic and bleeding risks, creating a complex clinical scenario with limited treatment options.
Understanding the intricate mechanisms of platelet dysfunction in infectious diseases and deciphering their interplay with other mediators is crucial for comprehending hemostasis in infection and identifying potential therapeutic targets. Challenges include the careful selection and interpretation of experimental models and patient cohorts due to varying disease stages, limited longitudinal monitoring, and concurrent co-infections or comorbidities. Animal models, particularly for specific pathogens, face limitations, and differences between species add complexity to translation.
Pandemics, alongside hemostatic dysregulations, will continue to pose a recurrent threat, exacerbated by high population density and an aging society. Therefore, comprehending the role of platelets in infections is a timely and central issue.

Alice Assinger is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Medical University of Vienna. Her academic journey began with studies in nutritional sciences as well as microbiology and genetics at the University of Vienna, culminating in her dissertation on "Platelets and oxidative stress" in 2009. Following this, she conducted postdoctoral research at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, focusing on viruses in cardiovascular diseases. Upon her return to Vienna, she established her research group with a primary emphasis on platelet-immune system interactions at the Institute of Vascular Biology and Thrombosis Research at the Medical University of Vienna.