1. Purified human eosinophils from asthmatic patients were stimulated with platelet-activating factor in vitro and examined for morphological changes by transmission electron and light microscopy. Changes were also evaluated by morphometric analysis and were related to the platelet-activating factor-stimulated release of granular eosinophil cationic protein.
2. Stimulation of eosinophils with platelet-activating factor induced a dose-dependent shape change, including the elongation of cells, loss of microvilli and the formation of lamellipodia. This effect was maximal at 25 min and was reversible.
3. Stimulation with platelet-activating factor also induced granule movement to the cell periphery and fusion of adjacent granules. Granules became swollen and vesiculated, whereas both the matrix and core showed evidence of solubilization.
4. There was a time-dependent secretion of eosinophilic cationic protein from human eosinophils upon stimulation with platelet-activating factor which occurred without significant lactate dehydrogenase release.
5. Morphometric analysis of the transmission electron micrographs indicated a significant reduction in cytoplasmic area after 10 min of incubation with platelet-activating factor from 39.0 ± 1.7 μm2 for untreated eosinophils to 33.2 ± 2.3 μm2 (P < 0.02) for platelet-activating factor-treated cells, underscoring the observation that the cells change from spherical to ellipsoidal. No significant increase in the perimeter of the cells was found.
6. The number of granule-profiles in platelet-activating factor-stimulated eosinophils was slightly reduced when compared with control, and an increase in granule area was observed 10 min after platelet-activating factor challenge (0.215 ± 0.011 μm2 versus 0.246 ± 0.016 μm2).
7. Human eosinophils from patients with asthma stimulated with platelet-activating factor undergo both cellular and granular alterations and reorganization which parallel the release of granular eosinophil basic protein.