The ability of platelets to carry out their hemostatic function can be impaired in a wide range of inherited and acquired conditions: trauma, surgery, inflammation, pre-term birth, sepsis, hematological malignancies, solid tumors, chemotherapy, autoimmune disorders, and many others. Evaluation of this impairment is vitally important for research and clinical purposes. This problem is particularly pronounced in pediatric patients, where these conditions occur frequently, while blood volume and the choice of blood collection methods could be limited. Here we describe a simple flow cytometry-based screening method of comprehensive whole blood platelet function testing that was validated for a range of pediatric and adult samples (n = 31) in the hematology hospital setting including but not limited to: classic inherited platelet function disorders (Glanzmann's thrombasthenia; Bernard-Soulier, Wiscott-Aldrich, and Hermasky-Pudlak syndromes, MYH9-dependent thrombocytopenia), healthy and pre-term newborns, acute and chronic immune thrombocytopenia, chronic lympholeukemia, effects of therapy on platelet function, etc. The method output includes levels of forward and side scatter, levels of major adhesion and aggregation glycoproteins Ib and IIb-IIIa, active integrins' level based on PAC-1 binding, major alpha-granule component P-selectin, dense granule function based on mepacrine uptake and release, and procoagulant activity quantified as a percentage of annexin V-positive platelets. This analysis is performed for both resting and dual-agonist-stimulated platelets. Preanalytical and analytical variables are provided and discussed. Parameter distribution within the healthy donor population for adults (n = 72) and children (n = 17) is analyzed.
Keywords: Flow cytometry; immune thrombocytopenia; pediatric platelets; platelet function; thrombocytopathy.