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Rethinking platelet storage

Platelets are routinely stored with agitation at room temperature for 5 days, after which they are discarded if they have not been transfused. Currently up to 20 percent of platelets are discarded prior to transfusion due to this short shelf-life. This practice is based on evidence from the 1970s that cold-stored platelets (ie platelets that had been stored in the refrigerator) were rapidly removed from the circulation after transfusion. 

More recent research has shown that despite more rapid clearance, cold-stored platelets may be more functional and even offer advantages in some situations, such as trauma. Cold storage of platelets would also simplify storage and transport logistics. 

In the last 12 months, a detailed comparison of conventional, cold-stored and cryopreserved platelets has been conducted within R&D, led by Principal Research Fellow, Dr Lacey Johnson. The study showed that many of the clot-forming functions of cold-stored platelets were just as good, if not better, than platelets stored conventionally at room temperature.

Lead researcher: Dr Lacey Johnson

Further reading:

Johnson L, Tan S, Wood B, Davis A, Marks DC (2016) Refrigeration and cryopreservation of platelets differentially affect platelet metabolism and function: a comparison with conventional platelet storage conditions. Transfusion doi:10.1111/trf.13630

Wood B, Padula MP, Marks DC, Johnson L (2016) Refrigerated storage of platelets initiates changes in platelet surface marker expression and localization of intracellular proteins. Transfusion 56(10):2548-2559

Refrigeration or cryopreservation?