Numerous reports have dichotomized responses after clopidogrel therapy using varying definitions and platelet tests in patients immediately after acute vascular events; however, no large study has assessed platelet characteristics in outpatients receiving long-term treatment for more than 30 days with the maintenance dose (75 mg/d) of clopidogrel. The aim of this study was to describe the responses of ex vivo measures of platelet aggregation and activation to long-term clopidogrel therapy in a large population of outpatients after coronary stenting or ischemic stroke.Methods
We conducted a secondary post hoc analysis of a data set represented by presumably compliant patients after coronary stenting (n = 237) or a documented ischemic stroke (n = 122) treated with clopidogrel-and-aspirin combination antiplatelet therapy.Results
The mean duration of treatment was 5.8 months (range 1–21 months). Every patient exhibited a significant inhibition of adenosine diphosphate-induced platelet aggregation (mean 52.9%, range 36%-70%) as compared with the preclopidogrel measures. Inhibition of aggregation strongly correlated with a diminished expression of PECAM-1 (platelet/endothelial cell adhesion molecule 1, r = 0.75), glycoprotein IIb/IIIa (r = 0.62), and PAR-1 (protease-activated receptor 1, r = 0.71). None of the patients developed hyporesponsiveness (reduction from the baseline <15%) or profound inhibition (residual platelet activity <10%).Conclusions
In contrast to the wide variability of responses that exists in the acute setting, long-term therapy with clopidogrel leads to consistent and much less variable platelet inhibition. Lack of nonresponse and profound inhibition with clopidogrel allow for the maintenance of a delicate balance between proven efficacy and acceptable bleeding risks for long-term secondary prevention in outpatients after acute vascular events.