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Eur J Cell Biol. 1987 Apr;43(2):273-82.

The exocytosis of human blood platelets. A fast freezing and freeze-substitution analysis.


Human platelets were stimulated with thrombin or collagen in order to induce the release of alpha-granules and dense bodies. The platelets were cryofixed in various stages of exocytosis and subsequently cryosubstituted in acetone containing 4% osmium tetroxide. The platelets embedded in araldite were analyzed in serial sections. The initial changes of the alpha-granules were characterized by an impressive swelling and a dispersal of the granular matrix. Swollen alpha-granules in different stages of exocytosis formed contacts. Between the attached membranes of the alpha-granules electron-dense connections were sometimes observed. In a later stage, the membranes formed a pentalaminar structure (apposition), typical for the prefusion state. After apposition, sequential fusion of single alpha-granules took place and fusions of single or of compound granules with the plasmalemma were observed. The formation of a pore on the platelet surface allowed the passage of granular constituents to the exterior. The dense bodies extruded their electron-dense contents in a similar way after fusion with the plasmalemma but, compared with the alpha-granules, after less extensive swelling. These findings suggest that swelling of the secretory organelles plays an important role for granule fusion and platelet exocytosis. There is some evidence that the characteristic "internal contraction" of cytoskeletal structures in stimulated platelets is not the driving force of the platelet release reaction. An involvement of membranes of the surface connected system in the secretory pathway could not be ascertained.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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