Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

The secretory pathway of bovine platelets

  1. JG White


Human platelets contain tortuous channels in their cytoplasm, the surface-connected or open canalicular system (OCS), that communicate directly with the surrounding medium through openings on the surface membrane. Some workers have suggested that the OCS serves as the egress route for products secreted during the release reaction. Others have proposed alternate secretory pathways. Since bovine platelets lack the OCS found in human cells, the present study has examined the secretory mechanism of these cells to see whether it can shed light on the mystery of human platelet secretion. Bovine platelet granules, in contrast to human granules, are located more peripherally in resting cells (often in contact with the plasma membrane), most do not move centrally following thrombin stimulation as do human platelet granules, and many fuse directly with the external plasma membrane without any intermediate channel. The lack of peripheral location of human granules, their central rather than peripheral movement during secretion, and the presence of extensive channels are all consistent with the larger importance of the secretory channel to human platelets. Thus, though studies of bovine secretion do show that platelets can secrete their granules by direct fusion of granule and surface membranes, other differences from human platelets emphasize that this pathway, although important to bovine platelet secretion, is less important in human platelets. Studies of bovine platelets also show that the OCS is more dynamic than might have been considered from human studies and can form rapidly in response to stimulation. Such newly formed channels are used as a conduit for secretion of granule contents. The finding emphasizes the importance of channels for granule secretion in platelets generally and puts a new perspective on the ability of these cells to form channels rapidly in response to stimulation.