Cryopreservation alters the membrane and cytoskeletal protein profile of platelet microparticles

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Cryopreservation of platelets (PLTs) in dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and storage at −80°C extends the PLT shelf life to at least 2 years, allowing greater accessibility in military and rural environments. While cryopreserved PLTs have been extensively characterized, the microparticles formed as a result of cryopreservation are yet to be fully described.


Apheresis PLTs were cryopreserved at −80°C with 5% DMSO and sampled before freezing and after thawing. Microparticle number, size, surface receptor phenotype, and function were assessed by microscopy, flow cytometry, dynamic light scattering, and thrombin-generating capacity. Proteomic changes were examined using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and Western blotting.


PLT cryopreservation resulted in a 15-fold increase in the number of microparticles compared to fresh PLTs. The surface receptor phenotype of these microparticles differed to microparticles from fresh PLTs, with more microparticles expressing glycoprotein (GP)IV, GPIIb, and the GPIb-V-IX complex. Cryopreservation drastically altered the abundance of many cytoskeletal proteins in the PLT microparticles, including actin, filamin, gelsolin, and tropomyosin. Despite these changes, PLT microparticles were functional and contributed to phosphatidylserine- and tissue factor– induced thrombin generation.


This study demonstrates that PLT microparticles formed by cryopreservation are phenotypically distinct from those present before freezing. These differences may be associated with the procoagulant properties of cryopreserved PLTs.

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