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Purpose of review: Microparticles (MP) or microvesicles are fragments shed from the plasma membrane of stimulated or apoptotic cells. Having long been considered inert debris reflecting cellular activation or damage, MP are now acknowledged as cellular effectors involved in cell-cell crosstalk. This review focuses on procoagulant MP circulating in the vascular compartment, their role in hemostasis and thrombosis, and possible impact in vascular functions.

Recent findings: Microparticles can be viewed as a "storage pool" by themselves, disseminating blood-borne tissue factor activity and procoagulant phospholipids. Increasing evidences of integrated loops involving dynamic exchanges and transfer events through multiple MP-cell interactions are summarized.

Summary: Microparticles can be considered true targets in the pharmacological control of thrombosis. Another challenging issue is to take advantage of their procoagulant potential for the management of hemophilia.

(C) 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.