Acute bilirubin ditaurate exposure attenuates ex vivo platelet reactive oxygen species production, granule exocytosis and activation

Evan Noel Pennell, Karl Heinz Wagner, Sapha Mosawy, Andrew Cameron Bulmer

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Background: Bilirubin, a by-product of haem catabolism, possesses potent endogenous antioxidant and platelet inhibitory properties. These properties may be useful in inhibiting inappropriate platelet activation and ROS production; for example, during storage for transfusion. Given the hydrophobicity of unconjugated bilirubin (UCB), we investigated the acute platelet inhibitory and ROS scavenging ability of a water-soluble bilirubin analogue, bilirubin ditaurate (BRT) on ex vivo platelet function to ascertain its potential suitability for inclusion during platelet storage. Methods: The inhibitory potential of BRT (10–100 μM) was assessed using agonist induced platelet aggregation, dense granule exocytosis and flow cytometric analysis of P-selectin and GPIIb/IIIa expression. ROS production was investigated by analysis of H2DCFDA fluorescence following agonist simulation while mitochondrial ROS production investigated using MitoSOX™ Red. Platelet mitochondrial membrane potential and viability was assessed using TMRE and Zombie Green™ respectively. Results: Our data shows ≤35 μM BRT significantly inhibits both dense and alpha granule exocytosis as measured by ATP release and P-selectin surface expression, respectively. Significant inhibition of GPIIb/IIIa expression was also reported upon ≤35 μM BRT exposure. Furthermore, platelet exposure to ≤10 μM BRT significantly reduces platelet mitochondrial ROS production. Despite the inhibitory effect of BRT, platelet viability, mitochondrial membrane potential and agonist induced aggregation were not perturbed. Conclusions: These data indicate, for the first time, that BRT, a water-soluble bilirubin analogue, inhibits platelet activation and reduces platelet ROS production ex vivo and may, therefore, may be of use in preserving platelet function during storage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101250
Number of pages9
JournalRedox Biology
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Bilirubin ditaurate
  • Flow cytometry
  • MitoSOX™ Red
  • Platelets
  • ROS
  • Superoxide

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