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Haematologica. 2011 Aug;96(8):1180-8. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2011.043042. Epub 2011 May 5.

White blood cell count, sex and age are major determinants of heterogeneity of platelet indices in an adult general population: results from the MOLI-SANI project.

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Research Laboratories, University with Fondazione di Ricerca e Cura Giovanni Paolo II for High Technology Research and Education in Biomedical Sciences, Catholic University, Largo Gemelli 1, Campobasso, Italy.



The understanding of non-genetic regulation of platelet indices--platelet count, plateletcrit, mean platelet volume, and platelet distribution width--is limited. The association of these platelet indices with a number of biochemical, environmental and clinical variables was studied in a large cohort of the general population.


Men and women (n=18,097, 52% women, 56±12 years) were randomly recruited from various villages in Molise (Italy) in the framework of the population-based cohort study "Moli-sani". Hemochromocytometric analyses were performed using an automatic analyzer (Beckman Coulter, IL, Milan, Italy). Associations of platelet indices with dependent variables were investigated by multivariable linear regression analysis.


Full models including age, sex, body mass index, blood pressure, smoking, menopause, white and red blood cell counts, mean corpuscular volume, D-dimers, C-reactive protein, high-density lipoproteins, low-density lipoproteins, triglycerides, glucose, and drug use explained 16%, 21%, 1.9% and 4.7% of platelet count, plateletcrit, mean platelet volume and platelet distribution width variability, respectively; variables that appeared to be most strongly associated were white blood cell count, age, and sex. Platelet count, mean platelet volume and plateletcrit were positively associated with white blood cell count, while platelet distribution width was negatively associated with white blood cell count. Platelet count and plateletcrit were also positively associated with C-reactive protein and D-dimers (P<0.0001). Each of the other variables, although associated with platelet indices in a statistically significant manner, only explained less than 0.5% of their variability. Platelet indices varied across Molise villages, independently of any other platelet count determinant or characteristics of the villages.


The association of platelet indices with white blood cell count, C-reactive protein and D-dimers in a general population underline the relation between platelets and inflammation.

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