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Keywords:

  • ischaemic stroke;
  • transient ischaemic attack;
  • flow cytometry;
  • platelet activation;
  • reticulated platelets;
  • thiazole orange

Summary

The percentage of reticulated platelets (% RP) could be a useful marker of increased platelet production and/or turnover in patients with increased platelet activation, but few flow cytometric studies have measured the % RP in patients with ischaemic cerebrovascular disease (CVD). Whole blood flow cytometry using thiazole orange was performed to compare the % RP in patients in the early (1–27 d, n = 79) and late phases (79–725 d, n = 70) after ischaemic stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) with controls without CVD (n = 27). The impact of aspirin dose escalation (75–300 mg/d) on the % RP was investigated in 10 patients in the late phase after stroke/TIA. The platelet count and mean platelet volume (MPV) were similar in CVD patients and controls. Compared with controls, the unadjusted % RP was not significantly higher in early or late phase CVD patients (P ≤ 0·3). However, having adjusted for age, the % RP was higher in early (P = 0·047) and late phase CVD patients (P = 0·01). There was a positive correlation between % RP and MPV in EDTA- and citrate-anticoagulated blood in both early and late phase CVD patients (P≤ 0·01). The % RP was not significantly influenced by aspirin dose. These data do not convincingly support an excessive stimulus to platelet production in the early or late phases after ischaemic stroke/TIA, but are consistent with the hypothesis that reticulated platelets are larger than more mature ‘non-reticulated’ platelets in ischaemic CVD.