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Development of platelet contractile force as a research and clinical measure of platelet function

  • Carr, Marcus E. Jr.1, 2
  • 1 Virginia Commonwealth University, Coagulation Special Studies Laboratory, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Central Virginia Center for Coagulation Disorders, Departments of Medicine and Pathology, Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, VA, 23298 , Richmond
  • 2 Richmond Veterans Administration Medical Center, Richmond, VA, 23298 , Richmond
Published Article
Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2003
DOI: 10.1385/CBB:38:1:55
Springer Nature


This article reviews work performed at the Medical College of Virginia of Virginia Commonwealth University during the development of a whole-blood assay of platelet function. The new assay is capable of assessing platelet function during clotting and thus allows measurement of the contribution of platelets to thrombin generation. Because platelets are monitored in the presence of thrombin, the test gages platelets under conditions of maximal activation. Three parameters are simultaneously assessed on one 700-μL sample of citrated whole blood. Platelet contractile force (PCF), the force produced by platelets during clot retraction, is directly measured as a function of time. This parameter is sensitive to platelet number, platelet metabolic status, glycoprotein IIb/IIIa status, and the presence of antithrombin activities. Clot elastic modulus (CEM), also measured as a function of time, is sensitive to fibrinogen concentration, platelet concentration, the rate of thrombin generation, the flexibility of red cells, and the production of force by platelets. The third parameter, the thrombin generation time (TGT) is determined from the PCF kinetics curve. Because PCF is absolutely thrombin dependent (no thrombin—no force), the initial upswing in PCF occurs at the moment of thrombin production. TGT is sensitive to clotting factor deficiencies, clotting factor inhibitors, and the presence of antithrombins, all of which prolong the TGT and are known to be hemophilic states. Treatment of hemophilic states with hemostatic agents shortens, the TGT toward normal. TGT has been demonstrated to be shorter and PCF to be increased in coronary artery disease, diabetes mellitus, and several other thrombophilic states. Treatment of thrombophilic states with a variety of heparin and nonheparin anticoagulants prolongs the TGT toward normal. The combination of PCF, CEM, and TGT measured on the same sample may allow rapid assessment of global hemostasis and the response to a variety of procoagulant and anticoagulant medications.

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