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Platelets Help Tackle Bacteria

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The cell fragments play a role in the body’s first line of defense against bacterial infection, helping white blood cells grab blood-borne bacteria in the liver. Platelets may contribute to protection against bacterial infection, according to new research published today (June 16) in Nature Immunology. Scientists found that in the livers of mice, platelets collaborated with specialized white blood cells to capture and engulf blood-borne bacteria, and this interaction helped protect the animals from bacterial infection.

“It’s an extremely exciting paper,” said Steve Watson, a platelet cell biologist at the University of Birmingham, who did not participate in the research. Though previous research had demonstrated that bacteria can activate platelets, “this work emphasizes that platelets play a day-to-day role in innate immune defense by helping remove bacteria in the liver.”

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