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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1997 Oct;17(10):2044-53.

Altered platelet function detected by flow cytometry. Effects of coronary artery disease and age.

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Department of Cardiology, Royal Brompton Hospital, London, UK.


Platelet activation state and responsiveness to physiological agonists were measured in 65 patients with documented coronary artery disease (54 male and 11 female; mean age, 58 years). Twelve patients (mean age, 52 years), selected at random from the male cohort, were compared with 12 age-matched male control subjects (mean age, 52 years) and with 10 normal, young male subjects (mean age, 25 years). Whole-blood flow cytometry was used to measure platelet activation status ex vivo and platelet responsiveness to physiological agonists in vitro. Peripheral blood samples were analyzed for bound fibrinogen and expression of P-selectin, GPIb, and GPIIb-IIIa at rest and in response to ADP (0.1 to 10 mumol/L) and thrombin (0.02 to 0.32 mu/mL). No significant differences were seen in the basal levels of fibrinogen binding between any of the groups, but P-selectin expression was significantly lower in patients compared with age-matched control subjects (P = .0005). When stimulated with agonists, patients' platelets had significantly decreased fibrinogen binding (P < .03) but no difference in P-selectin expression compared with the age-matched group. Both agonist-induced fibrinogen binding and P-selectin expression were, however, higher in the young subjects compared with either the older control group or the patients (P < .05). GPIb and GPIIb-IIIa expression were lowest in the patients with angina and highest in the young control subjects, with levels in the age-matched control subjects falling between these values. Data from the total patient cohort (n = 65) were identical to those in the smaller cohort (n = 12). In conclusion, atherosclerosis impairs platelet aggregatory responses (fibrinogen binding) over and above the decreased response seen with age. Platelet degranulation (P-selectin expression) is also impaired in patients with coronary artery disease, but only in comparison with younger subjects, not age-matched controls.

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