In the absence of appropriate stimuli, polymorphonuclear neutrophils rapidly undergo characteristic changes indicative of programmed cell death or apoptosis. We report here that neutrophils cultured in the presence of platelets (neutrophil:platelet ratios of 1:50, 1:25, and 1:10) show a dramatic inhibition of apoptosis compared with neutrophils cultured alone. Similar degrees of apoptosis delay were induced by viable unstimulated platelets, fixed unstimulated platelets, or fixed activated (1 U/ml thrombin) platelets. Inhibition of apoptosis was associated with prolongation of the functional lifespan of the neutrophil, as indicated by the higher capacity of platelet-treated neutrophils to display chemiluminescence responses triggered by FMLP, immune complexes, and zymosan. The mechanism responsible for the inhibition of neutrophil apoptosis by platelets has not yet been defined. However, it seems that classical recognition systems such as those mediated by the interaction between platelet P-selectin (CD62) or glycoprotein IIb/IIIa complex and their counter-receptors expressed by neutrophils are not involved.

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