Platelet subpopulations remain despite strong dual agonist stimulation and can be characterised using a novel six-colour flow cytometry protocol

Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 23;8(1):1441. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-19126-8.


It is recognised that platelets respond differently to activation, where a subpopulation of platelets adopt a procoagulant phenotype while others are aggregatory. However, it has not been thoroughly tested whether these subpopulations will remain in maximally activated samples, or if they are merely a result of different platelet sensitivities to agonist activation. Here platelets were activated with gradually increasing concentrations of thrombin and/or the GPVI agonist cross-linked collagen-related peptide (CRP-XL). Platelet activation was investigated using a novel six-colour flow cytometry protocol evaluating exposure of phosphatidylserine, active conformation of the fibrinogen receptor αIIbβ3, α-granule and lysosomal release (P-selectin and LAMP-1 exposure), mitochondrial membrane integrity and platelet fragmentation. Upon activation by CRP-XL or thrombin+CRP-XL, platelets formed three differently sized subpopulations. Normal-sized platelets showed high exposure of aggregatory active αIIbβ3 and intact mitochondria, while the smaller platelets and platelet fragments showed high exposure of procoagulant phosphatidylserine. The distribution of platelets between the differently sized subpopulations remained stable despite high agonist concentrations. All three were still present after 30 and 60 min of activation, showing that all platelets will not have the same characteristics even after maximal stimulation. This suggests that platelet subpopulations with distinct activation patterns exist within the total platelet population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Platelets / physiology*
  • Flow Cytometry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / drug effects
  • Peptides / pharmacology*
  • Phosphatidylserines / pharmacology
  • Platelet Activation
  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIIb-IIIa Complex / metabolism
  • Thrombin / pharmacology*


  • Peptides
  • Phosphatidylserines
  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIIb-IIIa Complex
  • Thrombin