The effect of lysed platelets on the activated coagulation time (ACT) was studied in heparinized whole blood during titration with protamine. Frozen-thawed washed platelet suspension, or a chromatography fraction thereof, or autologous frozen-thawed platelet-rich plasma was added in various dilutions to freshly drawn blood anticoagulated with 3,000 USP units/l heparin. After a 10 min incubation, the amount of protamine needed to restore the ACT to baseline ('protamine titration dose') was determined. We found that the protamine titration dose decreased in proportion to the amount of lysed platelet material added; expressed as a percentage of the total number of platelets present, each unit increase in lysed platelets produced a 1.7% ± 0.8 (SD) reduction in the protamine dose needed to normalize the ACT. A heparin activity assay showed that this effect was not due to anti-heparin activity of lysed platelets such as platelet factor 4 (PF4). Our data indicate that the procoagulant activity of platelet membranes reduced the sensitivity of the ACT to heparin. These findings suggest that membranous platelet microparticles may cause an inaccurate calculation, based on the ACT, of a protamine dose to reverse heparin anticoagulation in cardiopulmonary bypass procedures.
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