Introduction: Thrombocytopenia has been identified as an independent risk factor for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), although underlying mechanisms are unknown. In this study, the association of platelet count and serum platelet-derived factors with ROP was investigated. Methods: Data for 78 infants born at gestational age (GA) <28 weeks were included. Infants were classified as having no/mild ROP or severe ROP. Serum levels of vascular endothelial growth factor A, platelet-derived growth factor BB, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor were measured in serum samples collected from birth until postmenstrual age (PMA) 40 weeks. Platelet counts were obtained from samples taken for clinical indication. Results: Postnatal platelet counts and serum concentrations of the 3 growth factors followed the same postnatal pattern, with lower levels in infants developing severe ROP at PMA 32 and 36 weeks (p < 0.05-0.001). With adjustment for GA, low platelet counts and low serum concentrations of all 3 factors at PMA 32 weeks were significantly associated with severe ROP. Serum concentrations of all 3 factors also strongly correlated with platelet count (p < 0.001). Conclusion: In this article, we show that ROP, platelet counts, and specific pro-angiogenic factors correlate. These data suggest that platelet-released factors might be involved in the regulation of retinal and systemic angiogenesis after extremely preterm birth. Further investigations are needed.
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