Platelets contain a polypeptide growth factor that stimulates the replication of normal connective tissue cells; this platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) is released during the clotting process. Human platelets from normal volunteers were disrupted by nitrogen cavitation, and the subcellular organelles were fractionated by ultracentrifugation through a 30%--60% sucrose gradient. Electron microscopy revealed that fraction 7 (density 1.23 g/liter) contained the largest number of alpha granules. The specific activity of platelet fibrinogen, an alpha- granule marker, was also highest in this fraction. The subcellular fractions were assay for the presence of PDGF and for beta- thromboglobulin. PDGF was assayed quantitatively by the stimulation of DNA synthesis in confluent growth-arrested BALB/c-3T3 cells, whereas the concentration of beta-thromboglobulin was determined by radioimmunoassay. The highest concentrations of both PDGF and beta- thromboglobulin were found in the alpha-granule fraction. In contrast, beta-glucuronidase, a lysosomal enzyme, was more diffusely distributed and had its highest specific activity in fractions of lower density than those for PDGS, beta-thromboglobulin, or fibrinogen. The data demonstrate that the alpha granules of platelets provide a unique delivery system for PDGF, a polypeptide hormone with growth-promoting activity for connective tissue cells.

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