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Blood. 1977 Jan;49(1):71-87.

Heterogeneity of human whole blood platelet subpopulations. I. Relationship between buoyant density, cell volume, and ultrastructure.


A quantitative high yield method utilizing isosmotic arabino-galactan (Stractan) solutions and isopycnic centrifugation was developed to isolate and to fractionate total human platelet populations into density-dependent subpopulations. Isolated platelets were free of factor VIII/von Willebrand factor and other plasma proteins. They responded to ADP, epinephrine, and collagen with a sensitivity equal to platelet-rich plasma platelets. The correlation of platelet density with volume and ultrastructure was examined for normal subjects. Recovery of total platelet populations averaged 92.76%+/-3.64% (SD). Normal individuals exhibited a narrow range of platelet buoyant density distribution. Computerized probability plot analysis of platelet volume distribution for 15 normal subjects' total platelet populations showed a mean volume of 5.17+/-0.46 cu mum (SD). Platelets with buoyant density less than or equal to 1.062 g/ml had a mean volume of 4.50+/-0.48 cu mum, while platelets with buoyant density greater than 1.071 g/ml, but less than or equal to 1.084 g/ml, had a mean volume of 5.32+/-0.63 cu mum (SD). The volume difference by paired t test was significant, p less than 0.001. Thin-section electron microscopy demonstrated a significant reduction of granule content in light platelets, as compared to heavy platelets, but an equal number of mitochondria for both groups. These differences of platelet volume and structure between light and heavy platelets suggested that aging may be a determinant of platelet heterogeneity.

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