Platelet α-granules
Review articleOpen access

AbstractPlatelets contain a vast number of biologically active molecules within cytoplasmic granules which are classified according to their respective distinct ultrastructures, densities and content. The α-granule is a unique secretory organelle in that it exhibits further compartmentalization and acquires its protein content via two distinct mechanisms: (1) biosynthesis predominantly at the megakaryocyte (MK) level (with some vestigial platelet synthesis) (e.g. platelet factor 4) and (2) endocytosis and pinocytosis at both the MK and circulating platelet levels (e.g. fibrinogen (Fg) and IgG). The currently known list of α-granular proteins continues to enlarge and includes many adhesive proteins (e.g. Fg, von Willebrand factor (vWf) and thrombospondin (TSP)), plasma proteins (e.g. IgG and albumin), cellular mitogens (e.g. platelet derived growth factor and TGFβ), coagulation factors (e.g. factor V) and protease inhibitors (e.g. α2-macroglobulin and α2-antiplasmin). More recently the inner lining of the α-granule unit membrane has been demonstrated to contain a number of physiologically important receptors including glycoprotein IIb/IIIa (αIIbβ3) and P-selectin. The α-granules originate from small precursor granules which can be observed budding from the trans-Golgi network within the platelet precursor cell, the MK. During MK maturation the α-granules become very prominent and are ultimately packaged into platelets during thrombopoiesis. The α-granular contents are destined for release during platelet activation at sites of vessel wall injury and thus play an important role in haemostasis, inflammation, ultimate wound repair and in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.

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