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Concept: Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia


The diagnostic work-up for heparin induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) can take several days. Consequently patients may be speculatively switched onto replacement anticoagulant therapy before a diagnosis is confirmed. On-demand immunoassay diagnostic testing enables timely treatment decisions, based on test results.

Concepts: Medical terms, Diagnosis, Anticoagulant, Heparin, Thrombocytopenia, Immunoassay, Medical test, Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia


Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is an immune-mediated complication of heparin therapy. Our objective was (i) to compare various laboratory assays for HIT against clinical probability (4-T score) and C-serotonin release assay (SRA), which was the composite gold standard and (ii) to determine the incidence of HIT in the ICU.

Concepts: Assay, Heparin, Titration, Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia


Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) results from antibodies to PF4/heparin complexes and clinical diagnosis is difficult. We evaluated the particle immunofiltration anti-platelet factor 4 (PIFA) rapid assay, in conjunction with a clinical risk score, in the diagnosis of HIT.

Concepts: Platelet, Thrombocytopenia, Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, Grammatical conjunction


The aim of this study was to collect data in France in patients with heparin-induced thrombocytopenia who required parenteral anticoagulation and for whom other non-heparin anticoagulant therapies were contraindicated including patients with renal failure, cross-reactivity to danaparoid or at high hemorrhagic risk.

Concepts: Anticoagulant, Heparin, Anticoagulants, Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, Argatroban


A rapid and accurate diagnosis in patients with suspected heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is essential for patient management but remains challenging. Current HIT diagnosis ideally relies on a combination of clinical information, immunoassay and functional assay results. Platelet activation assays or functional assays detect HIT antibodies that are more clinically significant. Several functional assays have been developed and evaluated in the literature. They differ in the activation endpoint studied; the technique or technology used; the platelet donor selection; the platelet suspension (washed platelets, platelet rich plasma or whole blood); the patient sample (serum or plasma); and the heparin used (type and concentrations). Inconsistencies in controls performed and associated results interpretation are common. Thresholds and performances are determined differently among papers. Functional assays suffer from interlaboratory variability. This lack of standardization limits the evaluation and the accessibility of functional assays in laboratories. In the present article, we review all the current activation endpoints, techniques and methodologies of functional assays developed for HIT diagnosis.

Concepts: Blood, Patient, Coagulation, Platelet, ELISA, Assay, Thrombocytopenia, Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia


The aim of this study was to investigate whether the 2 tirofiban formulations tested in the early and late phases of the PRISM (Platelet Receptor Inhibitor in Ischemic Syndrome Management) trial might differ with respect to risk for thrombocytopenia and clinical outcomes compared with unfractionated heparin (UFH).

Concepts: Platelet, Low molecular weight heparin, Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia


Key Clinical Points Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is characterized by a decrease in the platelet count of more than 50% from the highest platelet count value after the start of heparin, an onset 5 to 10 days after the start of heparin, hypercoagulability, and the presence of heparin-dependent, platelet-activating IgG antibodies. Use of a scoring system that takes into account the timing and magnitude of the platelet count fall, new thrombosis, and the likelihood of other reasons for thrombocytopenia is helpful in assessing the pretest probability of HIT. Delayed-onset HIT develops after the cessation of heparin, and spontaneous or autoimmune HIT develops in the absence of heparin exposure. Platelet factor 4-heparin antibody tests should be ordered only if clinical features reasonably suggest HIT. These tests have a high negative predictive value but a low positive predictive value. Treatment of acute HIT requires the cessation of heparin and the initiation of therapeutic-dose anticoagulation with an alternative agent (argatroban, danaparoid, fondaparinux, or bivalirudin). Warfarin should be avoided in patients with acute HIT.

Concepts: Immune system, Coagulation, Platelet, Warfarin, Hematology, Anticoagulant, Heparin, Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia


Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is an autoimmune thrombotic disorder caused by immune complexes containing platelet factor 4 (PF4), antibodies to PF4 and heparin or cellular glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Here we solve the crystal structures of the: (1) PF4 tetramer/fondaparinux complex, (2) PF4 tetramer/KKO-Fab complex (a murine monoclonal HIT-like antibody) and (3) PF4 monomer/RTO-Fab complex (a non-HIT anti-PF4 monoclonal antibody). Fondaparinux binds to the ‘closed’ end of the PF4 tetramer and stabilizes its conformation. This interaction in turn stabilizes the epitope for KKO on the ‘open’ end of the tetramer. Fondaparinux and KKO thereby collaborate to ‘stabilize’ the ternary pathogenic immune complex. Binding of RTO to PF4 monomers prevents PF4 tetramerization and inhibits KKO and human HIT IgG-induced platelet activation and platelet aggregation in vitro, and thrombus progression in vivo. The atomic structures provide a basis to develop new diagnostics and non-anticoagulant therapeutics for HIT.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Coagulation, Immunology, Platelet, Heparin, Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, Platelet factor 4


Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is an immune complication of heparin therapy caused by antibodies to complexes of platelet factor 4 (PF4) and heparin. Pathogenic antibodies to PF4/heparin bind and activate cellular FcγRIIA on platelets and monocytes to propagate a hypercoagulable state culminating in life-threatening thrombosis. It is now recognized that anti-PF4/heparin antibodies develop commonly after heparin exposure, but only a subset of sensitized patients progress to life-threatening complications of thrombocytopenia and thrombosis. Recent scientific developments have clarified mechanisms underlying PF4/heparin immunogenicity, disease susceptibility and clinical manifestations of disease. Insights from clinical and laboratory findings have also been recently harnessed for disease prevention. This review will summarize our current understanding of HIT by reviewing pathogenesis, essential clinical and laboratory features and management.

Concepts: Immune system, Blood, Coagulation, Platelet, Heparin, Thrombocytopenia, Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, Platelet factor 4


Essentials Misdiagnosis of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) may be associated with adverse outcomes. We conducted a study of patients with a heparin allergy in the chart due to misdiagnosis of HIT. 42% of patients with a heparin allergy due to suspected HIT were clearly HIT-negative. 68% were unnecessarily treated with an alternative anticoagulant, 66% of whom had major bleeding.

Concepts: Bleeding, Heparin, Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia