Background: The processes that govern the distribution of molecules between platelets and the microparticles (MP) they release are unknown. Certain proteins are sorted selectively into MP, but lipid sorting has not been studied.
Objectives: To compare the phospholipid composition and cholesterol content of platelet-derived MP obtained with various stimuli with that of isolated platelet membrane fractions.
Methods: Washed platelets from venous blood of healthy individuals (n = 6) were stimulated with collagen, thrombin, collagen plus thrombin, or A23187. Platelet activation, MP release and antigen exposure were assessed by flow cytometry. MPs were isolated by differential centrifugation. Platelet plasma-, granule- and intracellular membranes were isolated from platelet concentrates (n = 3; 10 donors each) by pressure homogenization and Percoll density gradient fractionation. The phospholipid composition and cholesterol content of MPs and membrane fractions were analyzed by high performance thin layer chromatography.
Results: The phospholipid composition of MPs was intermediate compared with that of platelet plasma- and granule membranes, and differed significantly from that of intracellular membranes. There were small but significant differences in phospholipid composition between the MPs produced by the various agonists, which paralleled differences in P-selectin exposure in case of the physiological agonists collagen, thrombin, or collagen plus thrombin. The cholesterol content of MPs tended to be higher than that of the three-platelet membrane fractions.
Conclusions: Regarding its phospholipid content, the MP membrane is a composite of the platelet plasma- and granule membranes, showing subtle differences depending on the platelet agonist. The higher cholesterol content of MPs suggests their enrichment in lipid rafts.