Thrombosis and bleeding are devastating adverse events in patients supported with blood-contacting medical devices (BCMDs). In this study, we delineated that high non-physiological shear stress (NPSS) caused platelet dysfunction that may contribute to both thrombosis and bleeding. Human blood was subjected to NPSS with short exposure time. Levels of platelet surface GPIbα and GPVI receptors as well as activation level of GPIIb/IIIa in NPSS-sheared blood were examined with flow cytometry. Adhesion of sheared platelets on fibrinogen, von Willibrand factor (VWF), and collagen was quantified with fluorescent microscopy. Ristocetin- and collagen-induced platelet aggregation was characterized by aggregometry. NPSS activated platelets in a shear and exposure time-dependent manner. The number of activated platelets increased with increasing levels of NPSS and exposure time, which corresponded well with increased adhesion of sheared platelets on fibrinogen. Concurrently, NPSS caused shedding of GPIbα and GPVI in a manner dependent on shear and exposure time. The loss of intact GPIbα and GPVI increased with increasing levels of NPSS and exposure time. The number of platelets adhered on VWF and collagen decreased with increasing levels of NPSS and exposure time, respectively. The decrease in the number of platelets adhered on VWF and collagen corresponded well with the loss in GPIbα and GPVI on platelet surface. Both ristocetin- and collagen-induced platelet aggregation in sheared blood decreased with increasing levels of NPSS and exposure time. The study clearly demonstrated that high NPSS causes simultaneous platelet activation and receptor shedding, resulting in a paradoxical effect on platelet function via two distinct mechanisms. The results from the study suggested that the NPSS could induce the concurrent propensity for both thrombosis and bleeding in patients.
Keywords: Bleeding; blood-contacting medical devices; non-physiological shear stress; platelet dysfunction; thrombosis.