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Am J Pathol. 1973 Mar;70(3):449-71.

Platelet interaction with bacteria. 3. Ultrastructure.


The interaction of several common strains of bacteria with rabbit or human platelets in vitro has been examined sequentially with scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Bacteria were added to platelets in their native plasma or to washed platelets in a balanced salt solution at ratios of about 1:1 or at low bacteria to platelet ratios (down to 1:100). The platelet-bacterial interaction (PBI) was studied with recording nephelometry. Matched samples were fixed for microscopy at various points in the aggregation response. The results support these conclusions: a) Bacteria stimulate platelet aggregation by direct contact and adhesion with the platelet surface. b) Adhesion between the two cell types requires divalent cations, occurs through fusion of normal cell-surface coats and appears identical in the presence or absence of extracellular plasma protein. c) The morphologic transformation of platelets during PBI is identical to that produced by collagen. d) During PBI the bacteria are incorporated into the forming platelet aggregates and reside predominantly intercellularly. e) Phagocytosis of bacteria by a single platelet is very rare. f) Bacteria which have resided within platelet aggregates for one hour are unaltered morphologically. g) PBI occurs even at very low bacterial numbers and produces platelet-bacterial aggregates in small numbers without stimulating generalized platelet aggregation. Methods for concentration of thrombocytopenic plasma and washing human platelets are presented.

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