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J Clin Invest. 1977 Aug;60(2):302-12.

Studies on the mechanism of ristocetin-induced platelet agglutination. Effects of structural modification of ristocetin and vancomycin.


The mechanism by which ristocetin induces platelet agglutination in the presence of the von Willebrand factor was studied by chemically altering ristocetin and a similar antibiotic, vancomycin, by reaction with a water-soluble carbodiimide in the presence of glycine methyl ester at pH 4.75. Altering ristocetin's phenolic groups (which are thought to be important in its peptide-binding properties) resulted in a loss of both platelet-agglutinating and antibiotic activities. Restoring the phenolic groups with hydroxylamine restored both activities. Vancomycin has antibiotic and peptide-binding properties similar to ristocetin's, but differs structurally in having a free carboxyl group and thus a less positive charge at neutral pH. It does not induce platelet agglutination and actually inhibits ristocetin-induced agglutination. Reacting vancomycin with the water-soluble carbodiimide resulted in alteration of phenolic groups and permanent conversion of the carboxyl to a neutral derivative. Restoring the phenolic groups with hydroxylamine (but leaving the carboxyl neutralized) produced a compound with charge properties similar to ristocetin's which induced platelet agglutination as ristocetin does. These data suggest both a binding requirement (mediated through phenolic groups) and a strong positive charge requirement for ristocetin-induced agglutination. The data are consistent with a model wherein positively charged ristocetin binds, via its phenolic groups, to sites on the platelet surface and reduces the platelet's negative charge. This could reduce the electrostatic repulsion between platelets and/or between platelets and the negatively charged von Willebrand factor, and permit the macromolecular von Willebrand factor to cause agglutination by bridging between platelets.

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