Interaction between human platelets and bacterial endotoxin was studied in vitro with transmission and scanning electron microscopy. Washed human platelets, whose aggregation was blocked with apyrase, were incubated in a plasma-free medium containing crude endotoxin that had previously been complexed with copper. Thirty minutes of incubation resulted in adherence of endotoxin particles to the platelet surface, breaks in the platelet plasma membrane with apparent attempts at repair, pseudoped formation, and centralization of platelet organelles. Copper appeared to potentiate these phenomena, since neither Cu2+ at low concentrations nor endotoxin alone altered the morphology of the platelet membrane. This platelet-endotoxin interaction may be an intermediary step in the detoxification and clearance of endotoxin from the plasma.

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