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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 29, 2020

Glycophorin A-based exclusion of red blood cells for flow cytometric analysis of platelet glycoprotein expression in citrated whole blood

  • Christina Berens , Johannes Oldenburg , Bernd Pötzsch and Jens Müller EMAIL logo



Analysis of platelet glycoprotein (GP) expression by flow cytometry is applied for diagnostic confirmation of GP-associated thrombocytopathies. While platelet-rich plasma may be used for distinct identification of target events, this strategy is not feasible for small sample volumes or for patients showing low platelet counts and/or giant platelets. However, also the use of whole blood (WB) is hampered by the difficulty to discriminate platelets from red blood cells (RBC) in such patients. To circumvent these limitations, we evaluated the feasibility of a RBC gating-out strategy.


In addition to platelet GPIb, GPIIa/IIIa, as well as P-selectin (CD62P), citrated whole blood (CWB) samples were stained for RBC-specific glycophorin A (CD235a). CD235a-negative platelet events were further discriminated by forward-/side-scatter characteristics and platelet GP expressions analyzed relative to that of a healthy control sample processed in parallel.


Established reference intervals allowed for clear identification of decreased GPIIb/IIIa- or GPIb expression pattern in samples of patients with confirmed Glanzmann thrombasthenia or Bernard–Soulier syndrome, respectively. It could be shown that the analysis of 2,500 platelet events is sufficient for reliable GP expression analysis, rendering the proposed method applicable to samples with low platelet counts.


This study demonstrates the feasibility of CD235a-based exclusion of RBC for platelet GP expression analysis in CWB. In contrast to direct staining of platelet-specific antigens for target identification, this indirect gating out approach is generally applicable independent of any underlying platelet GP expression deficiency.

Corresponding author: Jens Müller, Institute of Experimental Haematology and Transfusion Medicine, University Hospital Bonn, Venusberg-Campus 1, 53127 Bonn, Germany, Phone: +49 228 287 16735, E-mail:


The authors thank Iris Neuerburg for expert technical assistance.

  1. Research funding: None declared.

  2. Author contributions: All authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this manuscript and approved its submission.

  3. Competing interests: Authors state no conflict of interest.

  4. Informed consent: Informed consent was obtained from all individuals included in this study.

  5. Ethical approval: Research involving human subjects complied with all relevant national regulations, institutional policies and is in accordance with the tenets of the Helsinki Declaration (as revised in 2013), and has been approved by the authors’ Institutional Review Board or equivalent committee.


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Supplementary material

The online version of this article offers supplementary material (

Received: 2020-01-06
Revised: 2020-05-29
Accepted: 2020-05-31
Published Online: 2020-06-29

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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