Analysis of preplatelets and their barbell platelet derivatives by imaging flow cytometry

Sam Kemble, Amanda Dalby, Gillian Lowe, Pip Nicolson, Steve Watson, Yotis Senis, Steven Thomas, Paul Harrison

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Circulating large “preplatelets” undergo fission via barbell platelet intermediates into two smaller, mature platelets. In this study, we determine whether preplatelets and/or barbells are equivalent to reticulated/immature platelets by using ImageStream flow cytometry (ISFC) and super-resolution microscopy. Immature platelets, preplatelets and barbells were quantified in healthy and thrombocytopenic mice, healthy human volunteers, and patients with immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) or undergoing chemotherapy. Preplatelets and barbells were 1.9%+0.18/1.7%+0.48 (n=6) and 3.3%+1.6/0.5%+0.27 (n=12) of total platelet counts in murine and human whole blood, respectively. Both preplatelets and barbells exhibited high expression of HLA-I with high thiazole orange and mitotracker fluorescence. Tracking dye experiments confirmed that preplatelets transform into barbells and undergo fission ex vivo to increase platelet counts, with dependence upon the cytoskeleton and normal mitochondrial respiration. Samples from antibody-induced thrombocytopenia in mice and patients with ITP had increased levels of both preplatelets and barbells correlating with immature platelet levels. Furthermore, barbells were absent post-chemotherapy in patients. In mice, in vivo biotinylation confirmed that barbells, but not all large platelets, were immature. This study demonstrates that a subpopulation of large platelets are immature preplatelets that can transform into barbells and undergo fission during maturation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2932–2946
Number of pages15
JournalBlood Advances
Issue number9
Early online date18 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2022


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