Flow cytometric studies of platelet responses to shear stress in whole blood

K. Konstantopoulos, K. K. Wu, M. M. Udden, E. I. Bañez, S. J. Shattil, J. D. Hellums

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


The objective of this work was to evaluate quantitatively the effects of flow on platelet reactions using a flow cytometric technique. Whole blood was exposed to well defined, laminar shear stress in a cone-and-plate viscometer in the absence of added agonists. Blood specimens were fixed with formaldehyde and incubated with two monoclonal antibodies. Antibody 6D1, specific for platelet membrane glycoprotein Ib (GPIb), was used to identify and enumerate platelets and platelet aggregates on the basis of their characteristic forward scatter and 6D1-FITC fluorescence profiles. Anti-CD62 antibody, specific for the granule membrane protein-140 (GMP-140), was used to measure platelet activation. Results showed platelet aggregation increasing with increasing shear stress with marked increase in this response for a pathophysiological stress level of 140 dyn/cm2 and higher. This stress level also was the apparent threshold for formation of large platelet aggregates ("large" refers to particles larger than 10 μm in equivalent sphere diameter). These platelet responses to shear stress were insensitive to aspirin, but strongly inhibited by agents that elevate platelet cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) levels. Moreover, pre-incubation of whole blood with monoclonal antibodies that inhibit von Willebrand factor binding to GPIb or von Willebrand factor and fibrinogen binding to GPIIb/IIIa inhibited platelet aggregation. Aggregation induced by shear at 37° C was less in extent than at 23° C. At physiological shear stresses, whole blood was more susceptible to shear-induced platelet aggregation than platelet-rich plasma. This study reaffirms that flow cytometric methods have several important advantages in studies of shear effects on platelets, and extends the methodology to whole blood unaltered by cell separation methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-93
Number of pages21
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Flow cytometry
  • platelet
  • shear stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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