The secretion of vasoactive amines from rabbit platelets induced by the platelet-activating factor (PAF) derived from IgE-sensitized rabbit basophils, was examined. The secretion required calcium has previously been shown to be noncytotoxic and was optimal in both rate and extent at 37 degrees C and pH 7.2. Different temperature-sensitive steps were rate limiting for secretion above or below 20 degrees C. The rate of secretion was dependent upon the concentration of PAF and also of platelets. Maximal rates were observed with relatively low concentrations of platelets (2.5 X 10(8)/ml), sharply contrasting with other platelet stimuli such as C3 or thrombin. The extent of secretion was dependent upon PAF concentration until a maximum of 50 or 60% of the serotonin was released and then declined with increasing amounts of PAF. This was interpreted to result from the platelets becoming desensitized to the PAF, a process that shuts off the secretion. Such a desensitization was demonstrated and was shown to be stimulus specific, i.e., other stimuli could still induce secretion from PAF-desensitized platelets. PAF extracted with ethanol from the albumin to which it is usually bound during preparation, exhibited similar characteristics, except that secretion of up to 90% of the serotonin was induced. The extracted PAF thus seemed less able to induce the desensitization. Its use did provide important evidence that populations of rabbit platelets are relatively homogenous in their ability to respond to PAF.

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