Relationship between size and thiazole orange fluorescence of platelets in patients undergoing high-dose chemotherapy

Carlo L. Balduini, P. Noris, P. Spedini, S. Belletti, A. Zambelli, G. A. Da Prada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The reticulated platelet count relies upon the assumption that newly formed platelets contain a residual amount of RNA which selectively binds the dye thiazole orange (TO) and greatly enhances its fluorescence signal. It has, however, recently been shown that almost half of the platelet TO-signal is derived from the labelling of dense-granule nucleotides. It is therefore possible that the higher TO fluorescence of young platelets partially derives from the higher granule content due to their larger volume. To investigate the relationship between platelet size and TO fluorescence we studied 13 patients with high-risk breast cancer undergoing high-dose chemotherapy. Mean platelet volume, platelet distribution width, platelet-large cell ratio, membrane content of glycoprotein Ib and IIb-IIIa and platelet aggregation were significantly greater during resolution than during development of thrombocytopenia, suggesting a prevalence of young and old platelets respectively. Mean TO fluorescence per cell was higher in the platelet population enriched in young cells than in that enriched in old cells, but this difference was no longer observed when the ratio TO signal/platelet size was examined. Moreover, RNase treatment and platelet degranulation reduced TO fluorescence to a similar extent in platelet populations enriched in young or old cells. Therefore our data suggest that the higher TO signal of young platelets is derived, to a significant extent, from their larger volume and granule content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-207
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Haematology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Dense granules
  • Platelet age
  • Platelets
  • Reticulated platelets
  • Thiazole orange

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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