A diagnostic test for heparin-induced thrombocytopenia: detection of platelet microparticles using flow cytometry

Br J Haematol. 1996 Dec;95(4):724-31. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2141.1996.d01-1944.x.


Based on our previous observation that heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) sera can generate platelet microparticles from washed platelets in a heparin-dependent fashion, we developed a test for HIT using flow-cytometry to measure heparin-dependent platelet microparticle formation. During the developmental phase of the assay the optimal physical conditions for microparticle generation were defined. 133 sera were then evaluated using the microparticle assay and the serotonin release assay to determine the threshold for defining a positive result that gave optimal sensitivity and specificity. The microparticle assay was then prospectively evaluated against the serotonin release assay in 202 sera referred to our laboratory for HIT testing. Overall agreement between the two assays was 96% (Cohen's kappa = 0.91). When the clinical data were reviewed on patients whose sera gave discrepant results between the two assays, no case of HIT was detected by one assay and missed by the other. The platelet microparticle assay is as accurate as the serotonin release assay and may be a useful non-radioactive test for HIT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Assay
  • Blood Platelets*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Heparin / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Platelet Count
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Thrombocytopenia / chemically induced
  • Thrombocytopenia / diagnosis*


  • Serotonin
  • Heparin