Rabbit platelets were aggregated by adenosine diphosphate (ADP), allowed to deaggregate and then separated into density subpopulations by centrifugation through discontinuous Stractan density gradients. Although ADP causes little or no release of the contents of the amine storage granules of rabbit platelets, ADP caused a decrease in platelet density as compared with control platelets subjected to the same procedures except for exposure to ADP. The density change persisted for at least four hours. The apparent size of platelets stimulated with ADP increased initially, but returned to control values during a one-hour period. A similar decrease in platelet density was observed with an albumin density gradient. Under conditions in which aggregation did not occur in response to ADP with ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) in the medium, little or no decrease in platelet density was observed. Agglutination with polylysine did not change platelet density. Thus, not only agents such as thrombin and plasmin that cause the release of the contents of the platelet granules decrease platelet density, but ADP also has this effect. Platelets would be exposed to all of these stimuli during thromboembolic processes, and their effect on platelets may account for the decrease in platelet density observed previously in experiments with rabbits with indwelling aortic catheters. Agents that increase the concentration of cyclic AMP (cAMP) in platelets (PGE1, adenosine, dibutyryl cAMP, forskolin, and papaverine) also decreased platelet density. This effect persisted when the platelets were washed and resuspended in fresh medium and was also demonstrable in plasma. Platelet size was gradually increased by prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) which maintains platelets in a disc shape and does not cause the release of granule contents, indicating that the decrease in platelet density caused by PGE1 may be attributable to platelet swelling.

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