BACKGROUND: Platelet (PLT) storage at room temperature (RT) is limited to 5 days to prevent growth of bacteria, if present, to high levels. Storage in cold temperatures would reduce bacterial proliferation, but cold-exposed PLTs are rapidly cleared from circulation by the hepatic Ashwell-Morell (AM) receptor, which recognizes PLT surface carbohydrates terminated by β-galactose. We cycled storage temperature between 4 and 37°C to preserve PLT function and reduce bacterial growth.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Temperature-cycled (TC) human PLTs were stored at 4°C for 12 hours and then incubated at 37°C for 30 minutes before returning back to cold storage. PLTs stored at RT or at 4°C (COLD) or TC for 2, 5, and 7 days were infused into SCID mice and the in vivo recovery was determined at 5, 20, and 60 minutes after transfusion.

RESULTS: PLTs stored for 2 days in COLD had significantly lower in vivo recoveries than RT PLTs. TC PLTs had improved recoveries over COLD and comparable to RT PLTs. After 5- and 7-day storage, TC PLTs had better recoveries than RT and COLD PLTs. PLT surface β-galactose was increased significantly for both COLD and TC PLTs compared to RT. Blocking of the AM receptor by asialofetuin increased COLD but not TC PLT recovery.

CONCLUSION: TC cold storage may be an effective method to store PLTs without loss of in vivo recovery. The increased β-galactose exposure in TC PLTs suggests that mechanisms in addition to AM receptors may mediate clearance of cold-stored PLTs.