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Eur Biophys J. 2011 Feb;40(2):195-208. doi: 10.1007/s00249-010-0639-2. Epub 2010 Nov 16.

Redox regulation of morphology, cell stiffness, and lectin-induced aggregation of human platelets.

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Department of Biophysics, Belarusian State University, Nezavisimosti Ave. 4, 220030 Minsk, Belarus.


Redox regulation and carbohydrate recognition are potent molecular mechanisms which can contribute to platelet aggregation in response to various stimuli. The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between these mechanisms and to examine whether cell surface glycocalyx and cell stiffness of human platelets are sensitive to the redox potential formed by glutathione. To this end, human platelets were treated with different concentrations (0.05 μM to 6 mM) and ratios of reduced or oxidized glutathione (GSH or GSSG), and platelet morphological, mechanical, and functional properties were determined using conventional light microscopy, atomic force microscopy, and lectin-induced cell aggregation analysis. It was found that lowering the glutathione redox potential changed platelet morphology and increased platelet stiffness as well as modulated nonuniformly platelet aggregation in response to plant lectins with different carbohydrate-binding specificity including wheat germ agglutinin, Sambucus nigra agglutinin, and Canavalia ensiformis agglutinin. Extracellular redox potential and redox buffering capacity of the GSSG/2GSH couple were shown to control the availability of specific lectin-binding glycoligands on the cell surface, while the intracellular glutathione redox state affected the general functional ability of platelets to be aggregated independently of the type of lectins. Our data provide the first experimental evidence that glutathione as a redox molecule can affect the mechanical stiffness of human platelets and induce changes of the cell surface glycocalyx, which may represent a new mechanism of redox regulation of intercellular contacts.

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