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Platelet activation has a key role in mediating thrombotic and inflammatory events. This study aimed to determine the influence of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and pre-eclampsia on in vivo platelet activation. Twelve healthy nulliparous, non-smoking women with regular menses were studied over a single menstrual cycle. Twenty-one healthy primigravida pregnant women were studied longitudinally at 16, 24, 32 and 37 weeks gestation and seven weeks post-partum. Sixteen primigravida women with pre-eclampsia were studied at time of diagnosis and at seven weeks post-partum. Platelet-monocyte aggregates and platelet-surface P-selectin expression were assessed by flow-cytometry. Soluble P-selectin and CD40 ligand (CD40L) were measured by ELISA. Markers of platelet activation did not vary over the menstrual cycle. Platelet-monocyte aggregates were greater in the third trimester of pregnancy compared to non-pregnant women (p=0.003). Platelet surface and plasma soluble P-selectin concentrations increased with gestation (p<0.0001) and were raised by 24 weeks of pregnancy compared to non-pregnant women (p< or =0.02 for both) and together with platelet monocyte aggregates, decreased post-partum (p< or =0.02). Soluble CD40L concentrations fell in pregnancy, reaching a nadir at mid-gestation (p=0.002). There were no differences in markers of platelet activation between normal and pre-eclamptic pregnancies. In conclusion, platelet activation is increased in pregnancy and increases with gestation but is unaffected by pre-eclampsia. This suggests that systemic platelet activation is a feature of pregnancy but this is not affected by established pre-eclampsia.

Original publication




Journal article


Thromb haemost

Publication Date





372 - 378


Adult, Biomarkers, Female, Gestational Age, Gravidity, Humans, Longitudinal Studies, Menstrual Cycle, Middle Aged, Platelet Activation, Postpartum Period, Pre-Eclampsia, Pregnancy, Young Adult