Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation





First Advisor

Dr. Susan S. Smyth

Second Advisor

Dr. Mariana Nikolova-Karakashian


Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) belongs to a class of extracellular lipid signaling molecules. In the vasculature, LPA may regulate platelet activation and modulate endothelial and smooth muscle cell function. LPA has therefore been proposed as a mediator of cardiovascular disease.

The bulk of circulating LPA is produced from plasma lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) by autotaxin (ATX), a secreted lysophospholipase D (lysoPLD). Early studies suggest that some of the production of circulating LPA is platelet-dependent. ATX possesses an N-terminal somatomedin B-like domain suggesting the hypothesis that ATX interacts with platelet integrins which may localize ATX to substrate in the membrane and/or alter the catalytic activity of ATX. Using static adhesion and soluble binding assays we found that ATX does indeed bind to platelets and cultured mammalian cells in an integrin-dependent manner which is blocked by integrin function-blocking peptides and antibodies. This binding increases both the activity of ATX and localization of its product, LPA, to the platelet/cell membrane.

LPA is generally stimulatory to human platelets although platelets from a small population of donors are refractory to LPA stimulation. Likewise LPA is inhibitory to murine platelets. We previously found that LPA receptor pan-antagonists reduce agonist-induced platelet activation, and partial stimulation of LPA5 specifically increases platelet activation in humans. Since both LPA5 and LPA4 are present at significant levels in human platelets, we hypothesized that LPA4 is responsible for an inhibitory pathway and LPA5 is responsible for an inhibitory pathway. We used mice deficient in LPA4 to test this model. Isolated platelet function tests revealed no major difference between lpa4-/- mice compared with WT mice although lpa4-/- mice were more prone to FeCl3-induced thrombosis. Paradoxically, chimeric mice reconstituted with lpa4-/- deficient bone marrow derived cells were protected from thrombosis. These discrepancies may be explained by involvement of endothelial cells and the relative scarcity of LPA receptors in murine platelets compared with human platelets.

Taken together, these results demonstrate two critical regulators of LPA signaling and open up new avenues to further our understanding of atherothrombosis.