Background: Light transmission aggregometry (LTA) is still the most used test for the identification and diagnosis of platelet function defects (PFD). Disadvantages of LTA include its laborious nature, the large volumes of blood required and the relative insensitivity to small changes in platelet function. We investigated if the flow cytometry-based whole blood platelet activation test (WB-PACT) correlates with LTA or could be used as a complimentary test.

Methods: WB-PACT quantifies αIIbβ3 activation and P-selectin expression in response to 3 agonists and VWF binding to platelets in response to ristocetin. In total, 212 patients (51 on dual antiplatelet therapy (acetylsalicylic acid and ADP receptor antagonist), 161 suspected for bleeding diathesis) were tested. For WB-PACT parameters, the 2.5th, 10th and 25th percentiles were determined in 56 healthy donors to score the patient samples. For LTA, maximal aggregation, disaggregation and prolongation of the lagtime in response to 4 agonists and ristocetin was scored. Patients with at least one parameter lower than the 10th percentile measured with WB-PACT in healthy donors or at least one value deviating from the normal range measured with LTA were diagnosed with PFD. A bleeding score (BS) was calculated with the ISTH/SSC bleeding assessment tool (Rodeghiero et al., JTH, 2010).

Results: A moderate correlation between LTA versus WB-PACT was found with a R of 0.60 (Figure 1). In total, 95 patients were diagnosed with PFD by both tests (κ=0.40, Table 1) and BS were recorded for 28/95 patients. Of these 28 patients, 25% had an elevated BS (adapted according to gender and age: >5 in women, >3 in men and >2 in children) and 36% had a BS>3. BS were recorded for 30/38 and 22/24 patients who were diagnosed with PFD according to WB-PACT only and LTA only, respectively. Interestingly, 27% of patients with PFD according to WB-PACT had an elevated BS and 40% had a BS>3. For LTA, only 13% of patients with PFD had an elevated BS and 13% had a BS>3.

Conclusions: Flow cytometric analysis of platelet function by WB-PACT gives additional value to LTA to determine PFD.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.