Influenza A virus-treated human platelets were lyzed in autologous serum. Lysis required the presence of antibody and occurred predominantly through activation of the classical complement pathway. Binding of the virus followed by its elution at 37 degrees C resulted in a dose-dependent desialation of the cells with a maximal release of 45% of total platelet sialic acid. In contrast, platelets that had been treated with Vibrio cholerae neuraminidase and from which 55% of total sialic acid had been removed were not lyzed in autologous serum and did not bind C3 as shown in binding assays using radiolabeled monoclonal anti-C3 antibody. Thus, the immune-mediated lysis of virus-treated platelets in autologous serum did not involve neoantigens expressed by desialated cells. To assess the effect of viruses on the platelet surface, treated platelets were incubated with galactose oxidase and sodium [3H]borohydride prior to separation and analysis of the labeled glycoproteins by SDS-PAGE. Viral treatment resulted in a desialation of each of the surface glycoproteins. At the same time, a labeled component of Mr 72,000 (nonreduced) and Mr 55,000 (reduced) was observed that was not present when V. cholerae-desialated platelets were examined in the same way. Immunoblotting experiments performed using antiwhole virus and anti-hemagglutinin antibodies demonstrated this component to be viral hemagglutinin. Involvement of membrane-bound hemagglutinin in antibody and in complement-mediated lysis of virus-treated platelets in autologous serum was supported by the increased lytic activity of a postvaccinal serum containing an elevated titer of complement fixing anti-hemagglutinin antibodies. Binding of a viral protein to the platelet surface provides a model for immune thrombocytopenias occurring during acute viral infections at the time of the specific immune response.
M D Kazatchkine, C R Lambré, N Kieffer, F Maillet, A T Nurden