Platelet secretory behaviour: as diverse as the granules … or not?

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Platelets play a central role in the arrest of bleeding after damage to a blood vessel and in the development of thrombosis. Platelets rapidly respond after interaction with sub-endothelial components and release cargo from their storage granules. The three principal granule types of platelets are α-granules, dense granules and lysosomes. Timed release of granule contents and regulated expression of critical receptors are essential for maintenance of the platelet thrombus, yet also have important functions beyond hemostasis (i.e. inflammatory reactions and immune responses). α-granules store adhesive molecules such as von Willebrand factor and fibrinogen, growth factors and inflammatory and angiogenic mediators, which play crucial roles in inflammatory responses and tumor genesis. The α-granules comprise a group of subcellular compartments with a unique composition and ultrastructure. Recent studies have suggested that differential secretory kinetics of α-granule subtypes is responsible for a thematic release of adhesive and inflammatory mediators. In addition, new results indicate that activation-dependent synthesis and release of cytokines also contribute to the inflammatory role of platelets. We will discuss the various methods that platelets use to regulate secretory processes and how these relate to potential differential secretion patterns, thereby promoting adhesiveness and/or inflammatory functions. We will focus on the heterogenic granule population, open canalicular system (OCS) plasticity, the role of contractile and mechanobiological forces, and the fusogenic machinery.

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