An overview of platelet indices and methods for evaluating platelet function in thrombocytopenic patients

Eur J Haematol. 2014;92(5):367-76. doi: 10.1111/ejh.12262. Epub 2014 Mar 12.


Thrombocytopenia is associated with bleeding risk. However, in thrombocytopenic patients, platelet count does not correlate with bleeding risk and other factors are thus likely to contribute to this risk. This review presents currently available platelet-related markers available on automated haematology analysers and commonly used methods for testing platelet function. The test principles, advantages and disadvantages of each test are described. We also evaluate the current literature regarding the clinical utility of the test for prediction of bleeding in thrombocytopenia in haematological and oncological diseases. We find that several platelet-related markers are available, but information about the clinical utility in thrombocytopenia is limited. Studies support that mean platelet volume (MPV) can aid diagnosing the cause of thrombocytopenia and low MPV may be associated with bleeding in thrombocytopenia. Flow cytometry, platelet aggregometry and platelet secretion tests are used to diagnose specific platelet function defects. The flow cytometric activation marker P-selectin and surface coverage by the Cone-and-Plate[let] analyser predict bleeding in selected thrombocytopenic populations. To fully uncover the clinical utility of platelet-related tests, information about the prevalence of platelet function defects in thrombocytopenic conditions is required. Finally, knowledge of the performance in thrombocytopenic samples from patients is essential.

Keywords: bleeding; haematology; oncology; platelet markers; thrombocytopenia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Automation, Laboratory
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Blood Coagulation Tests
  • Blood Platelets / metabolism*
  • Blood Platelets / pathology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression
  • Hemorrhage / diagnosis*
  • Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Hemorrhage / metabolism
  • Hemorrhage / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mean Platelet Volume
  • P-Selectin / genetics
  • P-Selectin / metabolism
  • Platelet Activation
  • Platelet Aggregation
  • Platelet Count / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Thrombocytopenia / complications
  • Thrombocytopenia / diagnosis*
  • Thrombocytopenia / metabolism
  • Thrombocytopenia / pathology


  • Biomarkers
  • P-Selectin