Three different separation methods, all using centrifugation, are routinely used to prepare therapeutic platelet concentrates from human donor blood. Platelet concentrates derived from platelet-rich plasma (PRP-PC), buffy coat (BC-PC) and apheresis (AP-PC) were investigated at the end of production, and over an 8 d storage period. Change in platelet surface markers were measured by flow cytometry, using fluorescein-conjugated antibodies to fibrinogen, P-selectin (CD62P), GPIIb–IIIa (CD41), GPIbα (CD42b) and GPV (CD42d), and fluorescein-conjugated Annexin V was used to measure expression of anionic phospholipid.
All concentrates showed some changes during preparation but PRP-PC underwent the greatest changes with significantly higher levels of P-selectin (P < 0.001) and bound Annexin V (P = 0.001) than AP-PC or BC-PC, and lower levels of GPIbα (P = 0.002) and GPV (P < 0.001). These changes were attributable to component separation rather than venesection. These markers all continued to change on storage with a strong positive correlation between the changes seen during production and those after 5 d storage. PRP-PC continued to show the greatest changes whereas BC-PC showed the least. Fibrinogen was bound to 40–50% of platelets in all preparations and this did not alter significantly on storage whereas total expression of GPIIb–IIIa remained unchanged throughout.
There was no evidence that the platelet surface changes were thrombin-mediated and leucocyte depletion of BP-PC by filtration had no effect on the changes. It is proposed that the deterioration of platelet concentrates during storage may be related to activation occurring during preparation. ‘Whole blood’ flow cytometry using a panel of fluorescein-labelled reagents provides an informative method for evaluating platelet concentrates.