Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a cytokine that plays important roles in the survival, development, and plasticity of neurons. BDNF is also expressed in peripheral tissues and cells. In this article, we report the BDNF release reaction through thrombin stimulation and its localization in human platelets. Platelets from healthy volunteers were subjected to PAR1-AP or PAR4-AP stimulation. Release of BDNF was measured by ELISA. Localization of BDNF in resting and thrombin-activated platelets was examined by immunoelectron microscopy and sucrose gradient ultracentrifugation following western blotting. BDNF was released dose-dependently with PAR1-AP concentrations with drastic release at low PAR1-AP concentrations and gently release at high PAR1-AP concentrations. Maximum BDNF release was approximately 37% at 132 μM PAR1-AP. In contrast, 3.8% BDNF was released with 1.13 mM PAR4-AP stimulation. In immunoelectron microscopy and sucrose gradient ultracentrifugation analyses, BDNF was detected not only in α-granules but also cytoplasm in of the resting platelets, and it was distributed in the swollen open canalicular system fused to α-granules at 1 min and disappeared at 5 min after stimulation by thrombin. However, BDNF in cytoplasm remained throughout platelet activation. In conclusions, we demonstrate that BDNF is released from platelets through predominately PAR1 regulation. Furthermore, we identified two pools of BDNF in the α-granules and cytoplasm of human platelets, and only BDNF in α-granules is released through platelet activation.
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