The relation between platelet buoyant density and beta-thromboglobulin (beta-TG), a marker for platelet alpha-granule content, was assessed by three independent approaches. (1) Platelets were separated on iso- osmolar discontinuous Stractan density gradients into five fractions, ranging in density from 1.061 g/ml to 1.091 g/ml (20 degrees C). The beta-TG content (mean +/- SD, n = 17) increased with the platelet density from 27.8 +/- 8.6 micrograms beta-TG/10(9) cells (20% less- dense platelets) up to 65.6 +/- 15.5 micrograms beta-TG/10(9) cells (15% most-dense platelets). (2) Activation of platelets in platelet- rich plasma with thrombin, adenosine diphosphate, collagen, or epinephrine resulted in a decreased density of the platelets. This was only seen when there was simultaneous secretion of beta-TG. (3) The less-dense and the more-dense platelet fractions, after isolation by density gradient centrifugation, were separately treated with thrombin. After complete degranulation, the density distribution of the originally less-dense and more-dense platelets were identical and were much narrower than the density distribution of resting platelets.

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