The contribution of von Willebrand factor–GPIbα interactions to persistent aggregate formation in apheresis platelet concentrates

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Background and Objectives

Apheresis platelet concentrates sometimes contain persistent aggregates (PA). Because apheresis involves extracorporeal circulation, we hypothesized that interactions between GPIbα and von Willebrand factor (VWF) underlie their origin.

Materials and Methods

Platelets in donations with PA were compared to aggregate-free (AF) controls. Flow cytometry was used to determine platelet bound VWF. Degranulation was measured using P-selectin expression in flow cytometry and cytokine release using immunosorbent assays. Platelet adhesion to VWF was assessed in hydrodynamic flow and real-time video microscopy.


Platelets in PA concentrates had significantly more (P = 0·009, n ≥ 8) bound VWF compared to AF platelets, but differences in VWF concentration, VWF collagen binding, activated VWF or GPIbα expression were not found. Degranulation was higher (P = 0·030, n = 7) in PA than AF concentrates on day 1 of storage, but adhesion to immobilized VWF under hydrodynamic flow conditions was normal at that moment. On day 6, however, significantly less VWF adhesion (P = 0·009, n ≥ 6) was found for PA platelets compared to AF, indicating accelerated storage lesion in PA products. In a model that mimicks PA formation by chemically induced binding of VWF to platelets, we found that degranulation, phosphatidylserine expression and metabolism did not differ with paired controls at any time during subsequent storage.


Accelerated storage lesion is found in concentrates with PA, but this cannot be explained solely by increased platelet bound VWF following apheresis. Therefore, additional stressors are probably responsible for the increases observed in platelet degranulation and storage lesion in products with PA.

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