How should we test for nonsevere heritable platelet function disorders?

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Abstract

Heritable platelet function disorders (HPFD) are a heterogeneous group of bleeding disorders with diverse clinical and laboratory characteristics. In contrast to the severe phenotype disorders, Glanzmann thrombasthenia and Bernard–Soulier syndrome, most nonsevere HPFD are incompletely characterized. This is a consequence of the poor standardization of diagnostic tests and of the lack of consensus about diagnostic criteria for the different subgroups of nonsevere HPFD. Distinguishing patients who have a nonsevere HPFD from those who do not is an essential first step in diagnosis which may be aided by bleeding assessment tools and screening tests such as the Platelet Function Analyser-100. However, high diagnostic accuracy can only be achieved with both light transmission aggregation (LTA) and secretion tests, for which streamlined agonist panels may be of similar utility to extended panels. Standardization of the methodology of these tests and quality assurance are essential for robust diagnosis. Identification of which platelet pathway is defective in patients with nonsevere HPFD is also usually possible with LTA and secretion tests. This strategy also sometimes enables exact diagnosis by implicating a single candidate protein and gene. Next-generation sequencing may offer a rapid approach to diagnosis of nonsevere HPFD, although rigorous strategies must be adopted to distinguish causative gene defects from bystander variations.

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