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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 9 (1998), Issue 6, Pages 359-366
Original Article

Platelet Depletion and Severity of Streptococcal Endocarditis

Lawrence Dall, Todd Miller, Betty Herndon, Ireneo Diez, and Michelle Dew

Section of Infectious Diseases, School of Medicine, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Received 8 December 1997; Accepted 4 March 1998

Copyright © 1998 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the importance of thrombocytopenia in streptococcal endocarditis using an animal model.

DESIGN: A model of human septic endocarditis was established in rats (polyethylene catheters across the aortic valve and administration of Streptococcus sanguis, 5×107 colony forming units [cfu] intravenous). Thrombocytopenia at four levels was produced by antiplatelet serum. Secondary methods of producing thrombocytopenia were also evaluated. At sacrifice (96 h after platelet depletion and 72 h after infection), vegetations were removed, weighed, diluted, plated and counted. Potential mechanisms of the dose-response relationship between vegetation density and platelet count were evaluated.

SETTING: Controlled research laboratory experiments.

POPULATION STUDIED: Animal models of streptococcal endocarditis.

MAIN RESULTS: The bacterial density of the aortic valve vegetations significantly increased as the platelet count decreased (P=0.0007). In severely thrombocytopenic animals (two-dose antiplatelet serum), data suggest increased vegetation embolism. Platelet depletion, which was minimal with chemical methods, was produced most effectively by antithrombocyte serum. Platelet surfaces in endocarditis were found to express elevated CD62p proteins (72.7% endocarditis, 34.7% control). Platelet protein fractions were evaluated in vitro by both streptocidal (P=0.19) and phagocytosis-stimulating assays. Platelet presence in mature aortic valve vegetations averaged only about 2%.

CONCLUSIONS: In platelet depletion experiments using a rat model, a dose-response relationship of peripheral circulating platelet depletion to aortic valve vegetation density was found. The mechanism relating thrombocytopenia to endocarditis severity remains unresolved.