Defined as an index of platelet size heterogeneity, the platelet distribution width (PDW) is still a poorly characterized marker of platelet function in (sub)clinical disease. We presently validated PDW as a marker of P-selectin dependent platelet activation in the Moli-family cohort. Platelet-bound P-selectin and platelet/leukocyte mixed aggregates were measured by flow cytometry in freshly collected venous blood, both before and after in vitro platelet activation, and coagulation time was assessed in unstimulated and LPS-or TNFα-stimulated whole blood. Closure Times (CT) were measured in a Platelet Function Analyzer (PFA)-100. Multivariable linear mixed effect regression models (with age, sex and platelet count as fixed and family structure as random effect) revealed PDW to be negatively associated with platelet P-selectin, platelet/leukocyte aggregates and von Willebrand factor (VWF), and positively with PFA-100 CT, and LPS-and TNF-α-stimulated coagulation times. With the exception of VWF, all relationships were sex-independent. In contrast, no association was found between mean platelet volume (MPV) and these variables. PDW seems a simple, useful marker of ex vivo and in vitro P-selectin dependent platelet activation. Investigations of larger cohorts will define the usefulness of PDW as a risk predictor of thrombo-inflammatory conditions where activated platelets play a contributing role.
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