1. We studied, in a random sample of 385 nonsmoking men born in 1968–1969 and 31 men born in 1913 or 1923, whether inheritance and environmental factors influenced platelet activity and vessel wall prostacyclin formation, as reflected non-invasively by the urinary excretion of the 2,3-dinor-metabolites of thromboxane A2 (2,3-dinor-thromboxane B2, Tx-M) and prostacyclin (2,3-dinor-6-keto-prostaglandin F, PGI-M), respectively.

2. Fathers of young men with high platelet activity did not excrete more Tx-M than fathers of young men with low platelet activity. Men born in 1913 or 1923 displayed higher Tx-M (563 versus 128 pg/mg of creatinine, P < 0.001) and PGI-M (163 versus 130 pg/mg of creatinine, P < 0.01) excretion than those born in 1968–1969. Excretion of both Tx-M and PGI-M was correlated to the urinary output of noradrenaline and adrenaline.

3. Well-trained subjects did not differ in their excretion of Tx-M or PGI-M from those who did not exercise regularly. A recent acute infection was also unrelated to the excretion of Tx-M or PGI-M. PGI-M excretion was, however, significantly correlated to Tx-M excretion (r = 0.51, P < 0.001).

4. This study provides the first non-invasive evidence that advancing age and sympathoadrenal tone are positively correlated to platelet activity in randomly sampled men, and that paternal inheritance, physical fitness and recent infection lack correlation to platelet activity.

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