The relationship between platelet density and platelet age appears to vary between species with relatively few labeling studies in humans reported. In this study, irreversible monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors were used to biochemically label the circulating platelet population in 15 humans. Platelet samples were then isolated during the 15 days after drug ingestion. The platelets were separated by density on continuous linear Percoll gradients and the density distributions were divided into five fractions containing approximately equal numbers of platelets. Baseline MAO activity was strongly correlated with platelet density. Twenty-four hours after a single dose of tranylcypromine, platelet MAO activities in the density subpopulations were reduced to 14% to 17% of the baseline values. During the first five days after inhibition, the rates of recovery of MAO activity (percentage per day) were inversely proportional to platelet density. The recovery rates in the two most dense fractions were initially slow but increased after five days. Percentage recovery of MAO activity in the least dense fraction was significantly greater than the percentage recovery in the most dense fraction on days 2, 3, 5, and 8 (P less than .01, sign test). These results support the hypothesis that normal human platelets show a small increase in density with age, but they do not exclude the additional possibility that human platelet lifespan is positively correlated with platelet density.

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