Platelet function in patients with NIDDM is enhanced. We have found that spontaneous aggregation (i.e., the formation of small-sized aggregates in the absence of agonist stimulation) occurs at a high rate in platelets from NIDDM patients. We then investigated basal myosin light chain 20 (MLC) phosphorylation, which plays a key role in platelet shape change and aggregation, using a monoclonal antibody against a phosphorylation site (serine 19 residue) in the MLC molecule in platelets from these patients. Standard calibration curves obtained from purified MLC or the phosphorylated form of myosin light chain 20 (MLC-P) were linear within the range of 0–150 ng for MLC and 0–3 ng for MLC-P. The amount of MLC or MLC-P in platelets was estimated, and basal MLC phosphorylation was calculated. Platelets were obtained from 9 young healthy control subjects, 13 age- and sex-matched nondiabetic control subjects, and 13 patients with NIDDM. The basal MLC phosphorylation in platelets was significantly higher in the NIDDM patients than in the control subjects, irrespective of age. These findings suggest that platelets from NIDDM patients are activated in vivo. Platelets obtained from NIDDM patients generated spontaneous aggregation, the degree of which was significantly higher than that in control subjects. Platelet spontaneous aggregation correlated well with basal MLC phosphorylation. These findings suggest that increases in basal MLC in platelets may be one factor leading to hyperaggregability of platelets in these patients.

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