Immunological Studies of the Platelet Cytoskeleton

  • J. Michael Wilkinson
Part of the Blood Cell Biochemistry book series (BLBI, volume 2)


Resting platelets are small discoid cells that are capable, upon appropriate stimulus, of undergoing remarkable changes in morphology and activity. In vitro, these include an initial shape change to a spherical form, with the extension of pseudopodia in response to low concentrations of activating agents, incubation in the cold, or mechanical activation. This shape change may be reversed by incubation at 37°C, indicating that no major irreversible reorganization has taken place within the cell. Further activation leads to the extension of numerous long pseudopodia, followed by aggregation and the secretion of the physiologically active contents of the granules. Finally, aggregated platelets express contractile activity in causing the retraction of an aggregate or fibrin clot. An alternative method of studying in vitro activation is to allow platelets to attach to surfaces such as glass, where again initially they extend pseudopodia and finally spread to a flattened form resembling a fried egg. There are a wide variety of stimuli that can cause these reactions; these include collagen, thrombin, ADP, serotonin, and the Ca2+ ionophore A23187; their effects have been reviewed extensively by Siess (1989). The physiological counterparts of these in vitro activities are an initial activation by subendothelial collagen, exposed by damage to the endothelium, followed by further activation induced by the formation of thrombin and augmented by positive feedback from the release of ADP and serotonin from platelet degranulation. In physical terms, the platelets attach to the exposed subendothelium, form a hemostatic plug, and finally cause clot retraction to close the lesion.


Actin Filament Platelet Activation Human Platelet Blood Platelet Membrane Skeleton 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Michael Wilkinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Hunterian InstituteRoyal College of SurgeonsLincoln’s Inn Fields, LondonEngland

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