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Int J Lab Hematol. 2016 Feb;38(1):72-80. doi: 10.1111/ijlh.12442. Epub 2015 Nov 6.

A high-performance liquid chromatography method for the serotonin release assay is equivalent to the radioactive method.

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ARUP Laboratories Institute for Clinical and Experimental Pathology, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
Department of Pathology, University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.



The serotonin release assay (SRA) is considered the gold standard laboratory test for heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT). The historic SRA method uses platelets loaded with radiolabeled serotonin to evaluate platelet activation by HIT immune complexes. However, a nonradioactive method is desirable. We report the performance characteristics of a high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) SRA method.


We validated the performance characteristics of an HPLC-SRA method, including correlation with a reference laboratory using the radioactive method. Serotonin released from reagent platelets was quantified by HPLC using fluorescent detection. Results were expressed as % release and classified as positive, negative, or indeterminate based on previously published cutoffs.


Serum samples from 250 subjects with suspected HIT were tested in the HPLC-SRA and with the radioactive method. Concordant classifications were observed in 230 samples (92%). Sera from 41 healthy individuals tested negative. Between-run imprecision studies showed standard deviation of <6 (% release) for positive, weak positive, and negative serum pools. Stability studies demonstrated stability after two freeze-thaw cycles or up to a week of refrigeration.


The HPLC-SRA has robust performance characteristics, equivalent to the historic radioactive method, but avoids the complexities of working with radioactivity.


Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia; high-performance liquid chromatography; laboratory testing; platelets; serotonin release assay

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