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Blood Cells. 1990;16(1):97-106; discussion 107-8.

Measurement of platelet activation by fluorescence-activated flow cytometry.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco 94143.


Platelet activation is postulated to play a critical role in the pathogenesis of thrombotic and hemorrhagic disorders. Previous assays for detection of activated platelets were cumbersome and provided only nonspecific information with limited sensitivity. The recent introduction of fluorescence-activated flow cytometric techniques for platelet analysis used in combination with monoclonal antibodies for detection of specific platelet-activation antigens has introduced the possibility of improved assays to detect activated platelets. The monoclonal antibody S12, directed against the unique platelet-activation antigen GMP-140, has been used to develop a fluorescence-activated flow cytometric assay. Patient samples for this assay can be easily prepared and maintained until analyzed in batch mode. Peripheral blood obtained from normal subjects exhibited low levels of activated platelets, and the assay had sufficient sensitivity to detect as few as 2% to 3% activated platelets among normal platelets. Patients undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass had transiently increased numbers of circulating activated platelets. Evaluation of standard blood bank platelet concentrates has shown the presence of significant numbers of activated platelets. Other studies have suggested that the degree of platelet activation correlated with poor posttransfusion increments and survival. Thus, this assay may also be useful for quality control of platelet concentrates. Future development of the GMP-140 and other platelet-activation antigen assays should improve detection of disorders characterized by inappropriate platelet activation.

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