Smith JW. Steinhubl SR. Lincoff AM. Coleman JC. Lee TT. Hillman RS. Coller BS. Rapid platelet-function assay: an automated and quantitative cartridge-based method. Circulation. 99(5):620-5, 1999.
The platelet glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa receptor is important in mediating platelet thrombus formation, and the GP IIb/IIIa antagonist abciximab (c7E3 Fab; ReoPro) is effective in preventing thrombotic ischemic cardiovascular complications of unstable angina and percutaneous coronary interventions. Small-molecule antagonists of GP IIb/IIIa based on the Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) sequence show similar benefit, and some of these agents are orally active. However, there may be significant interindividual variation in response to such antagonists, especially with chronic oral therapy. It will be essential to balance the beneficial antithrombotic effect of these drugs with their potential for causing bleeding. In response to this need, we have developed a rapid platelet-function assay (RPFA), a point-of-care system that provides a quantitative measure of the competence of the GP IIb/IIIa receptor as reflected in the ability of platelets to agglutinate fibrinogen-coated beads. Polystyrene beads were coated with fibrinogen and placed in a cartridge along with a lyophilized peptide that activates the thrombin receptor. Anticoagulated whole blood was added to the cartridge, and then a microprocessor-controlled operation mixed the reagents and detected agglutination between platelets and coated beads. Quantitative digital results were displayed within 3 minutes. Because there is no dilution of the blood, the assay can be used to measure platelet activity in samples that have been treated with GP IIb/IIIa antagonists with high dissociation rates. RPFA results of whole-blood samples treated with different GP IIb/IIIa antagonists correlated well with both conventional turbidimetric platelet aggregation (r2=0.95) and the percentage of free GP IIb/IIIa molecules in the sample (r2=0.96). The mean difference in measurements between RPFA and aggregometry was -4% (+/-4% SD), and the mean difference in measurements between RPFA and free GP IIb/IIIa receptors was -2% (+/-6% SD). The authors conclude that the RPFA provides rapid information on platelet function that mirrors turbidimetric platelet aggregation and reflects GP IIb/IIIa receptor blockade.