Localization of fibrinogen during ADP- or thrombin-induced aggregation of washed rabbit platelets
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In contrast to human platelets, which aggregate poorly in response to ADP unless fibrinogen is present in the external medium, washed rabbit platelets form large aggregates in response to ADP without fibrinogen in the suspending medium. Addition of fibrinogen to the suspending medium of rabbit platelets frequently has little or no effect on the extent of ADP-induced platelet aggregation. We examined washed rabbit platelets by immunocytochemistry during ADP-induced aggregation and deaggregation and during thrombin-induced aggregation when the external medium did not contain added fibrinogen to determine if (a) fibrinogen was expressed on the surface of rabbit platelets that could support aggregation when the platelets were stimulated, or (b) fibrinogen secreted from the alpha granules supports platelet aggregation. Glutaraldehyde-fixed samples were prepared at different times after addition of ADP or thrombin, embedded in Lowicryl K4M, sectioned, incubated with sheep anti-rabbit fibrinogen, washed, reacted with gold-labeled anti-sheep IgG, and prepared for electron microscopy. The alpha granules of rabbit platelets were heavily labeled with immunogold; the platelet membrane was not labeled. During platelet aggregation and deaggregation in response to ADP, fibrinogen was not detectable on the platelet surface. In response to thrombin, large aggregates formed before fibrinogen was secreted from the alpha granules; fibrinogen was detectable focally at sites of granule discharge by 30-60 sec and fibrin formed by 3 min. Therefore, stimulated washed rabbit platelets can adhere to each other without large amounts of fibrinogen taking part in the close platelet-to-platelet contact, since aggregation occurs before detectable secretion, and large areas where the platelets are in contact are devoid of fibrinogen between the adherent membranes. Adhesion mechanisms not involving fibrinogen may support the aggregation of washed rabbit platelets.