The possible participation of proteases in human platelet aggregation was explored using various protease inhibitors and substrates. Protease inhibitors used included naturally occurring inhibitors of serine proteases and synthetic inhibitors that modify the active site of protease. Substrates used were synthetic substrates for the trypsin type as well as for the chymotrypsin type of protease. All these inhibitors and substrates inhibited platelet aggregation and serotonin release induced by ADP, collagen, epinephrine, or thrombin. In ADP- and epinephrine-induced platelet aggregation the second phase of aggregation was most efficiently inhibited. The inhibitors suppressed the formation of malondialdehyde during platelet aggregation. Release by aggregating agents of arachidonate and its metabolites from indomethacin-treated platelets as well as nontreated platelets was also inhibited. The inhibitors apperar to interact with stimulated platelets but not with unstimulated platelets. These observations suggest that the interaction of an aggregating agent with its platelet receptor activates a unique precursor serine protease that in turn activates platelet phospholipase to liberate arachidonic acid (the precursor of the potent platelet aggregating agent thromboxane A2) from platelet phospholipids.

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