Distinct characteristics of neonatal platelet reactivity
Platelets undergo a process of developmental maturation, and hence its regulation of vascular integrity and control of hemostasis at various stages of neonatal ages deserves better characterization. Functional assays for platelets require a larger volume of blood than what is feasible to collect in neonates, creating a technical hurdle that has been a challenge to investigate neonatal platelets. For this reason, the current knowledge of neonatal platelet function has been based on studies from cord blood-derived platelets as a surrogate for neonatal peripheral blood. Studies indicate that neonatal platelets are hypofunctional to various agonists, although neonates tend to maintain normal hemostasis. This apparently paradoxical finding may be due to several factors, such as elevated functionally potent von Willebrand factor multimers or hematocrit levels, in the neonatal blood that enhance the platelet and vessel wall interaction, and counteract platelet hyporeactivity. This review describes the functional characteristics of neonatal platelets, differences in platelet reactivity between neonates and adults, and potential biomarkers of platelet activation.