Platelet biomarkers shed light on potential risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Posted date


Study Title: Dysregulation of platelet serotonin, 14–3–3, and GPIX in sudden infant death syndrome

Publication: Scientific Reports

Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center authors: Andrew Frelinger, PhD; Robin Haynes, PhD; Richard Goldstein, MD; Hannah Kinney, MD; Lynn Sleeper, ScD; Alan Michelson, MD


Researchers examined whether blood platelets, which have serotonin (5-HT) and 14–3–3 signaling pathways similar to brain neurons, are abnormal in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). About 40% of SIDS cases have abnormalities in serotonin and 14-3-3 pathways in brainstem areas related to hypoxia, gasping, and arousal. Whether platelets, which have similar serotonin and 14-3-3 pathways, are also abnormal in SIDS is unknown. In this study, researchers found platelets in postmortem blood from SIDS cases had significantly higher plasma and intra-platelet serotonin and lower intra-platelet 14-3-3 zeta and platelet surface glycoprotein IX (which is indirectly linked to 14-3-3) than controls. The presence in SIDS of both platelet and brainstem serotonin and 14-3-3 abnormalities suggest global dysregulation of these pathways. Platelet and plasma biomarkers may aid in the forensic determination of SIDS and have the potential to be predictive of SIDS risk in living infants.


Researchers, who previously found abnormalities in serotonin and protein 14-3-3 in the brains of infants dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), have now found that these abnormalities can be identified in SIDS platelets (small cells that circulate in blood). Their work raises the possibility that future tests based on these platelet biomarkers may aid in discriminating SIDS from other causes of infant death or indicate risk for SIDS in living infants.


This study was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development Grants P01-HD036379 (to H.C.K.), R01-HD020991 (to H.C.K. and R.L.H.), R21-HD096355 (to R.D.G.), and P30-HD18655 (Developmental Disabilities Research Center, Children's Hospital Boston); American SIDS Institute, Barrett Tallman Memorial Fund; Borrowed Time 151, CJ Murphy Foundation for Solving the Puzzle of SIDS; Cooper Trewin Brighter Days Fund, First Candle, Florida SIDS Alliance; Jacob Neil Boger Foundation for SIDS; Jude Theodore Zayac Fund, Margot Elizabeth Koslosky Memorial Fund, River's Gift, and Robert's Program on Sudden Unexpected Death in Pediatrics.

News Category

Media Contacts

If you are a journalist and have a question about this story, please call 617-632-4090 and ask to speak to a member of the media team, or email

The Media Team cannot respond to patient inquiries. For more information, please see Contact Us.