Several hundreds of studies recently investigated mean platelet volume (MPV) as measured by electronic cell counters in a wide variety of acquired diseases, and most of them found that platelet size was significantly increased with respect to healthy subjects. On this basis, it has been suggested that MPV can be used for diagnostic purposes. Moreover, investigation of subjects with arterial thrombosis not only revealed that their platelets were larger than those of controls, but also found that a high MPV predicted poor prognosis. Despite the large amount of available data, the pathogenesis of increased platelet size in these conditions is unclear. In particular, we do not know whether the increased platelet size is the cause or the consequence of thrombosis. Differences in MPV between patients and controls are usually very small and they reach the statistical significance because of the large number of investigated patients and the standardized methodology for MPV measurement. In real life, the wide variability of MPV possibly due to platelet count, sex, age, and ethnicity, as well as the very poor standardization of the methodologies used for MPV measurement, makes it impossible to decide whether an individual patient has normal or instead slightly increased MPV. So, MPV has presently no role in making diagnosis and defining prognosis in any acquired illness.
Keywords: Cell counters; mean platelet volume; platelet size.