Structurally intact platelet cohorts of differing densities can be isolated from normal subjects by the use of isosmolar arabinogalactan density gradients. Using platelets separated in this fashion, we have studied the density-dependent distribution of four subcellular organelles: mitochondria, lysosomes, dense bodies, and alpha granules. Mitochondria, which are not secreted during platelet release, demonstrate a slow decline in monoamine oxidase activity within the gradient. Lysosomal beta-glucuronidase does not vary significantly with platelet density. In contrast, dense body number and endogenous serotonin content decrease significantly with decreasing platelet density, primarily as the result of differences in the number of storage organelles. Platelet factor 4 content declines rapidly in comparison to lysosomal activities (P less than .001 from bottom to top of the gradient); but beta-thromboglobulin, also an alpha granule component, exhibits considerably less change than platelet factor 4 (P less than .001). Thus, specific platelet subcellular constituents have different density distributions. We postulate that these density differences may be due to differential in vivo loss of selective biochemical constituents from unique subcellular compartments.

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