Point-of-care Platelet Function Tests: Relevance to Arterial Thrombosis and Opportunities for Improvement
Studies using whole blood platelet aggregometry as a laboratory research tool, provided important insights into the mecha- nism and modulators of platelet aggregation. Subsequently, a number of point-of-care (POC) platelet function tests (PFTs) were developed for clinical use, based on the concept that an individual’s thrombotic profile could be assessed in vitro by assessing the response to stimulation of platelet aggregation by specific, usually solo agonists such as adenosine diphosphate (ADP), collagen and thrombin. However, adjusting antiplatelet medication in order to improve the results of such POC PFTs has not translated into a meaningful reduction in cardiovascular events, which may be attributable to important differences between the POC PFT techniques and in vivo conditions, including patient-to-patient variability. Important limitations of most tests include the use of citrate-anticoagulated blood. Citrate directly and irreversibly diminishes platelet function and even after recalcification, it may result in altered platelet aggregation in response to ADP, epinephrine or collagen, and inter- fere with thrombin generation from activated platelets. Furthermore, most tests do not employ flowing blood and therefore do not assess the effect of high shear forces on platelets that initiate, propagate and stabilize arterial thrombi. Finally, the effect of endogenous thrombolysis, due to fibrinolysis and dislodgement, which ultimately determines the outcome of a thrombotic stimulus, is mostly not assessed. In order to accurately reflect an individual’s predisposition to arterial thrombosis, future mbotic status which overcome these limitations should be used, to improve cardiovascular risk prediction and uide pharmacotherapy.