Increasing number of transgenic and knockout strains of laboratory rodents has been developed to provide reliable models of human cardiovascular diseases. Due to apparent differences in platelet physiology, morphology, biochemistry, etc. between rodents and men, methods employed to study blood platelets in rodents should always consider these differences in a reasonably critical way. Flow cytometry is a convenient tool that enables to easily cope with the minute amounts of the available biological material and providing an extremely versatile information. This review focuses on the practical and methodological aspects of flow cytometry, pointing to the key elements of the commonly used protocols for determining of multiple parameters of blood platelet (patho)physiology in mice and rats. We summarized and critically reviewed the available procedures, as well as figured out how to overcome possible obstacles, shortcomings, drawbacks or artefacts that a researcher may encounter when monitoring various phenomena intimately associated with blood platelet biology. Flow cytometry assays have been also collated with some alternative techniques (intravital fluorescence microscopy, in vitro platelet adhesion under flow conditions). We hope that our paper may further facilitate other researchers to study mouse and rat platelets with the use of the most optimal and the least artefact-prone procedures.
Part of the book: Flow Cytometry