Biomolecular Consequences of Platelet Pathogen Inactivation Methods

Transfus Med Rev. 2019 Jan;33(1):29-34. doi: 10.1016/j.tmrv.2018.06.002. Epub 2018 Jun 27.


Pathogen inactivation (PI) for platelet concentrates (PC) is a fairly recent development in transfusion medicine that is intended to decrease infectious disease transmission from the donor to the receiving patient. Effective inactivation of viruses, bacteria and eukaryotic parasites adds a layer of safety, protecting the blood supply against customary and emerging pathogens. Three PI methods have been described for platelets. These are based on photochemical damage of nucleic acids which prevents replication of most infectious pathogens and contaminating donor leukocytes. Because platelets do not replicate, the collateral damage to platelet function is considered low to non-existing. This is disputable however because photochemistry is not specific for nucleic acids and significantly affects platelet biomolecules as well. The impact of these biomolecular changes on platelet function and hemostasis is not well understood, but is increasingly being studied. The results of these studies can help explain current and future clinical observations with PI platelets, including the impact on transfusion yield and bleeding. This review summarizes the biomolecular effects of PI treatment on platelets. We conclude that despite a comparable principle of photochemical inactivation, all three methods affect platelets in different ways. This knowledge can help blood banks and transfusion specialists to guide their choice when considering the implementation or clinical use of PI treated platelets.

Keywords: Cell damage; Membrane; Metabolism; Pathogen inactivation; Platelets; Signal transduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Banks
  • Blood Platelets / microbiology*
  • Blood Preservation / methods*
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Furocoumarins / chemistry
  • Furocoumarins / therapeutic use
  • Hemostasis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Nucleic Acids / chemistry
  • Platelet Transfusion / methods*
  • Riboflavin / chemistry
  • Signal Transduction
  • Thrombocytopenia / complications
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Furocoumarins
  • Nucleic Acids
  • amotosalen
  • Riboflavin