The platelet release reaction: granules' constituents, secretion and functions

Platelets. 2001 Aug;12(5):261-73. doi: 10.1080/09537100120068170.


Although anucleated, blood platelets are highly organized cells rich in different types of organelles. Three specific granule populations store different types of constituents, some of which are at high concentrations. Platelets thus transport some specific compounds through the whole body. During circulation, platelets are reactive to various stimuli and release the materials stored in the specific granules. This 'release reaction' is an important step of primary haemostasis. Energy and messengers required for platelet reactivity are provided by mitochondria and the dense tubular system. Each granule population has specific properties concerning both the structure and the role played by the released constituents. Dense granules contain small non-protein molecules that are secreted to recruit other platelets. alpha-Granules contain large adhesive and healing proteins. Lysosomes contain hydrolases able to eliminate the circulating platelet aggregate. The extrusion of storage granules' content to the platelet's environment occurs according to regulated secretion events: movements of granules, apposition and fusion of granule and plasma membranes. Typical platelet disorders resulting from a storage granule abnormality are referred to as a storage pool defect and are characterized by a prolonged bleeding time.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Platelets* / metabolism
  • Blood Platelets* / physiology
  • Blood Platelets* / ultrastructure
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / chemistry
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / classification
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Intracellular Membranes / physiology
  • Transport Vesicles / chemistry
  • Transport Vesicles / metabolism
  • Transport Vesicles / physiology*