Standardization of platelet-derived microparticle counting using calibrated beads and a Cytomics FC500 routine flow cytometer: a first step towards multicenter studies?

J Thromb Haemost. 2009 Jan;7(1):190-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1538-7836.2008.03200.x. Epub 2008 Oct 18.


Background: Platelet microparticles (PMPs) have proved useful to identify patients with vascular risk. However, PMP counting, which is currently done by flow cytometry (FCM), needs to be standardized.

Objectives: The objectives were (i) to standardize FCM settings for PMP counts on a routine instrument (Cytomics FC500) using size-calibrated fluorescent beads; (ii) to determine intra-instrument and inter-instrument reproducibility; and (iii) to establish PMP values in healthy subjects.

Methods: Using a blend of size-calibrated fluorescent beads (0.5 and 0.9 mum) in a fixed numerical ratio (Megamix), we gated PMPs in a restricted size window. To test intra-instrument and inter-instrument reproducibility, annexin V and CD41 coexpression were used to count PMPs in frozen aliquots of the same platelet-free plasma (PFP) over 4 months and in PFP from 10 healthy subjects on three independent flow cytometers.

Results: This calibrated-bead strategy allowed full long-term control of the FCM-based microparticle protocol and reproducible PMP counts over time [coefficient of variation (CV) < 10%]. Optimal settings were easily transferred from one instrument to another, using Megamix as a stable template. Similar PMP counts (CV < 12%) were obtained using the three instruments. With such a standardized FCM protocol, PMP values were established in healthy subjects (n = 60) with significantly higher levels in women than in men [median (1st quartile to 3rd quartile): 1775 microL(-1) (1014-3039 microL(-1)) vs. 656 microL(-1) (407-962 microL(-1))].

Conclusions: The present strategy provides a new option for PMP count standardization and thus opens the way for multicenter studies.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Platelets*
  • Calibration
  • Cell-Derived Microparticles / pathology*
  • Flow Cytometry / methods
  • Flow Cytometry / standards*
  • Humans
  • Microspheres
  • Observer Variation
  • Particle Size
  • Reference Standards