We studied the disaggregation of human platelets by tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA). When added to a suspension of human platelets induced to aggregate in plasma with adenosine 5'-diphosphate, t-PA promoted disaggregation of platelets over several minutes. Addition of fresh plasma or purified human fibrinogen to disaggregated platelets facilitated (reversible) aggregation and subsequent disaggregation. Aspirin treatment of platelets markedly potentiated the ability of t-PA to induce disaggregation. Disaggregation was inhibited by alpha-2-antiplasmin. Comparative analysis of the rate of proteolysis of platelet-bound fibrinogen with that of ambient plasma fibrinogen suggested that fibrinogenolysis of cohesive fibrinogen occurred more rapidly than fibrinogenolysis of ambient fibrinogen. These data demonstrate that t-PA facilitates platelet disaggregation in plasma through kinetically selective proteolysis of cohesive fibrinogen by plasmin, and suggest that thrombolytic mechanisms may serve both to remove platelets from platelet-fibrin thrombi and to disperse circulating platelet aggregates.
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