Combination of two complementary automated rapid assays for diagnosis of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT)

J Thromb Haemost. 2020 Jun;18(6):1435-1446. doi: 10.1111/jth.14794. Epub 2020 Apr 27.


Background: HIT diagnosis typically uses complementary diagnostic assays (eg, a PF4-dependent enzyme-immunoassay [EIA] and a platelet activation assay such as the serotonin-release assay [SRA]).

Objectives: To determine whether the combination of two automated assays-a latex immunoturbidimetric assay (LIA) that evaluates competitive inhibition of a HIT-like monoclonal antibody and a chemiluminescence immunoassay (CLIA) for detecting anti-PF4/heparin IgG-optimizes diagnostic sensitivity while also yielding good specificity, particularly at high assay reactivities.

Patients/methods: We determined operating characteristics using combined LIA/CLIA results from a HIT observational trial (n = 430; derivation cohort) and 147 consecutive patients with HIT (n = 147; supplementary derivation cohort). We also evaluated 678 consecutive samples referred for HIT testing (replication cohort). LIA/CLIA reactivities were scored individually as "negative" (<1.00 U/mL, 0 points), "weak" (1.00-4.99 U/mL, 1 point), "moderate" (5.00-15.99 U/mL, 2 points) and "strong" (≥16.00 U/mL, 3 points), thus contributing up to 6 points (maximum) when LIA/CLIA results were combined. We also examined whether higher LIA/CLIA scores predicted presence of platelet-activating antibodies by conventional and modified (PF4- or PF4/heparin-enhanced) SRA.

Results: Combined LIA/CLIA testing yielded high diagnostic sensitivity (~99%) similar to EIA. Interpretation of LIA/CLIA results using the 6-point scale indicated progressively greater likelihood for the presence of platelet-activating antibodies with increasing scores (semi-quantitative reactivity). A LIA/CLIA score ≥ 4 points predicted the presence of platelet-activating antibodies by SRA or PF4-enhanced SRA with high probability (~98%).

Conclusion: Combined LIA/CLIA testing optimizes diagnostic sensitivity, with progressively greater probability of detecting platelet-activating antibodies with higher assay reactivity that reaches 98% when both automated assays yield moderate or strong results.

Keywords: blood platelets; clinical laboratory techniques; heparin; immunoassay; thrombocytopenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects
  • Heparin / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Platelet Activation
  • Platelet Factor 4*
  • Thrombocytopenia* / chemically induced
  • Thrombocytopenia* / diagnosis


  • Anticoagulants
  • Platelet Factor 4
  • Heparin