Subcellular membrane and granule fractions derived from human platelets contain factor VIIII antigen and von Willebrand factor activity but not factor VII procoagulant activity. Circulating platelets constitute a significant reservoir of plasma factor VIII antigen, containing approximately 15% of the amount of factor VIII antigen present in platelet-poor plasma. The antibiotic ristocetin, which aggregates human platelets in the presence of von Willebrand factor, nonspecifically precipitates platelet membrane factor VIII antigen. Thus normal platelets contain surface-bound as well as internally stored von Willebrand factor, a protein synthesized by endothelial cells which is necessary for normal platelet function in vivo.

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