A sensitive and specific functional flow cytometric assay for the diagnosis of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia

Aaron Tomer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


A functional flow cytometric assay (FCA) for the immediate diagnosis of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), with simultaneous compatibility testing for alternative anticoagulant therapies, has been developed to provide rapid and reliable results which effectively support patient management. The assay provides results within 1-2 h, uses readily available non-radioactive reagents, and employs standard equipment. Using the highly sensitive annexin V protein probe, the method detects activated platelets induced by heparin immune-complexes, with 300-fold increased binding to activated platelets. Twenty-five samples from patients clinically-suspected of having HIT (131 tests) and 10 normal control (NC) samples (36 tests) were simultaneously tested with unfractionated heparin (UH) and low molecular- weight heparin (LMWH), and by the radioactive serotonin-release assay (SRA) (62 and 16 tests respectively). The FCA highly correlated with the SRA, showing 100% specificity and 95% sensitivity. Moreover, the FCA exhibited higher resolution between positive and negative samples (an average value of 8.6-fold the NC versus 4.0-fold the NC by SRA). The LMWH showed concordant results with UH (r=0.95). We conclude that the functional FCA for HIT is practical, specific and sensitive, thereby permitting the rapid diagnosis of HIT and the suitability of alternative therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)648-656
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Haematology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Flow cytometry
  • Heparin
  • Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia
  • Thrombocytopenia
  • Thrombosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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