Characterization of the competing role of surface-contact and shear stress on platelet activation in the setting of blood contacting devices

Silvia Bozzi, Yana Roka-Moiia, Tatiana Mencarini, Federica Vercellino, Ilenia Epifani, Kaitlyn R. Ammann, Filippo Consolo, Marvin J. Slepian, Alberto Redaelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Supraphysiological shear stress and surface-contact are recognized as driving mechanisms of platelet activation (PA) in blood contacting devices (BCDs). However, the competing role of these mechanisms in triggering thrombogenic events is poorly understood. Here, we characterized the dynamics of PA in response to the combined effect of shear stress and material exposure. Human platelets were stimulated with different levels of shear stress (500, 750, 1000 dynes/cm2) over a range of exposure times (10, 20, and 30 min) within capillary tubes made of various polymeric materials. Polyethylene (PE), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), and polyether ether ketone (PEEK), used for BCDs fabrication, were investigated as compared to glass and thromboresistant Sigma™-coated glass. PA was quantified using the Platelet Activity State assay. Our results indicate that mechanical stimulation and polymer surface-contact both significantly contribute to PA. Notably, the contribution of the mechanical stimulus ranges between +36% and +43%, while that associated with polymer surface-contact ranges from +48% to +59%, depending on the exposure time. In more detail, our results indicate that: (i) PA increases with increasing shear stress magnitude; (ii) PA has a non-linear, time-dependent relationship to exposure time; (iii) PA is largely influenced by biomaterials, with PE and PEEK having respectively the lowest and highest prothrombotic potential; (iv) the effects of polymer surface-contact and shear stress are not correlated and can be studied separately. Our results suggest the importance of incorporating the evaluation of platelet activation driven by the combined effect of shear stress and polymer surface-contact for the comprehensive assessment, and eventually minimization, of BCDs thrombogenic potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1013-1020
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Artificial Organs
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Platelet activation
  • biomaterial
  • exposure time
  • polymer surface-contact activation
  • shear stress
  • thrombosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomaterials


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