Platelets from diabetic patients are hypersensitive to agonists in vitro. Membrane fluidity modulates cell function, and reduced membrane fluidity in cholesterol-enriched platelets is associated with platelet hypersensitivity to agonists, including thrombin. Decreased membrane fluidity of these platelets is attributed to an increased cholesterolphospholipid molar ratio in platelet membranes. We examined the response of platelets from diabetic subjects to thrombin, platelet membrane fluidity, and platelet cholesterol-phospholipid molar ratio. Twelve poorly controlled diabetic subjects were compared with 12 age- and sex-matched control subjects. In response to a low concentration of thrombin, mean values for release of [14C]serotonin from washed prelabeled platelets were not significantly different between diabetic and control subjects, but in 8 of 12 diabetic subjects, the release response was greater than in their paired control subjects. Mean steady-state fluorescence polarization values in 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5- hexatriene-labeled platelets prepared from diabetic subjects were significantly greater than in control subjects; this indicates a decreased membrane fluidity in platelets from diabetic subjects. Total or very-low-density (VLDL), low-density (LDL), or highdensity (HDL2, HDL3) lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations in plasma were not significantly different between groups; however, the ratio of VLDL + LDL to HDL2 + HDL3 was significantly greater in diabetic than in control subjects. There was no difference in the total platelet cholesterol-phospholipid molar ratio between groups. Thus, reduced membrane fluidity of platelets from diabetic patients could account for their increased sensitivity to agonists; reduced membrane fluidity does not appear to result from a change in the plasma or platelet cholesterol content but is associated with an increase in the ratio of plasma VLDL + LDL to HDL2 + HDL3.

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