Scientists from Novosibirsk State University published their research in the special issue of “Optics & Photonics News - Optics in 2020”. Their work may advance the study of platelet function in various physiological and pathological conditions and is of great importance for the diagnosis and control of cardiovascular diseases. The article presents an optical method for studying the dynamics of platelet activation. This helps study early activation, cell-to-cell signaling, and non-linear interactions of various biochemical pathways.
The authors, Daria Spireva, Alexey Vorobyov, Vadim Klimontov, Elena Koroleva and Alexander Moskalensky work at the NSU Physics Department Optics and Dynamics of Biological Systems Laboratory. The article describes how they use the photolabile analogue of ADP (caged ADP). This substance activates platelet receptors after exposure to a certain wavelength of light. It can be added to the sample, wait for uniform mixing with platelets, and then cause their activation by an optical pulse. This was the key result presented in the article.
Daria Spireva, student at the NSU Physics Department and employee at the Optics and Dynamics of Biological Systems Laboratory, talked about the work,
Our research is devoted to platelet activation, which is a rather complex process. Activation is the primary process that occurs during damage to the vessel wall and a violation of this process can lead to cardiovascular diseases. The idea of using an optical pulse came from the need to trigger this process when we studied it under a microscope. Platelet activation is "turned on" by special receptors on the cell surface that are sensitive to activator substances. In our study it was ADP. Since we look at everything under a microscope, our volume is limited to a droplet and platelets are very small cells so the addition of a droplet of ADP led to the cell displacement. However, it was not possible to understand exactly when the activation began. The challenges also can be attributed to being the first to study this process in each cell separately and even first for free moving cells! Previously, studies were carried out either on fixed platelets or scientists looked at the general activation signal.
Once the scientists learned how to optically control the process, it became possible to measure the early dynamics in single free floating cells, that was previously unavailable. Currently there is limited research in this area, but it is very promising. Platelets play a major role in the development of cardiovascular complications that are the primary cause of death in the modern world. Studying the activation of single cells with the help of photolabile substances will bring new knowledge about the process. There is also the possibility it will generate new parameters for medical diagnostics that are necessary for progress in medicine.
One of the article’s authors added,
This study is relevant, and we will continue to work on it. There are still many unsolved problems, for example, improving the protocol for preparing cells for research using not only one photolabile substance, but several in one sample for further study of both activation and other platelet functions. We will accumulate data, improve the methodology, develop the theoretical aspect of the issue, and do everything to make our research even more useful to science and society.