Quantification of Platelet Contractile Movements during Thrombus Formation

Thromb Haemost. 2018 Sep;118(9):1600-1611. doi: 10.1055/s-0038-1668151. Epub 2018 Aug 15.


Imaging methods based on time-lapse microscopy are important tools for studying the dynamic events that shape thrombus formation upon vascular injury. However, there is a lack of methods to translate the vast amount of visual data generated in such experiments into quantitative variables describing platelet movements that can be subjected to systematic analysis. In this study, we developed experimental and computational protocols allowing for a detailed mathematical analysis of platelet movements within a developing thrombus. We used a flow chamber-based model of thrombosis wherein a collagen strip was used to initiate platelet adhesion and activation. Combining the use of a platelet staining protocol, designed to enable identification of individual platelets, and image processing, we tracked the movements of a large number of individual platelets during thrombus formation and consolidation. These data were then processed to generate aggregate measures describing the heterogeneous movements of platelets in different areas of the thrombus and at different time points. Applying this model and its potential, to a comparative analysis on a panel of platelet inhibitors, we found that total platelet intra-thrombus movements are only slightly reduced by blocking the interactions between glycoproteins IIb/IIIa and Ib and their ligands or by inhibiting thromboxane synthesis or P2Y12 signalling. In contrast, whereas 30 to 40% of the platelets movements (for the CD42a-labelled platelets) and 20% (for the pro-coagulant platelets), within a thrombus, are contractile, i.e., towards the centre of the thrombus, this contractile component is almost totally abolished in the presence of agents inhibiting these pathways.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Platelets / physiology*
  • Cell Movement / drug effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Computer Simulation
  • Diffusion Chambers, Culture
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Platelet Aggregation
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIIb-IIIa Complex / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2Y12 / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Thrombosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thrombosis / drug therapy
  • Thrombosis / pathology
  • Thromboxanes / biosynthesis
  • Time-Lapse Imaging


  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIIb-IIIa Complex
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2Y12
  • Thromboxanes

Grant support

Funding This study was supported by a grant from the Swedish Research Council VR3R, Project No K2015-79X-22644-01-3 and DNr 2017-01177, the Swedish Heart-Lung foundation No 2017-0440 and by Linköping University.