Immunofluorescence staining of cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells has shown the presence of von Willebrand protein in the perinuclear region, in small rodlike structures through the cytoplasm, and on filaments of the extracellular matrix. Nonendothelial cells showed no staining with anti-von Willebrand protein antiserum. At the light microscope level, immunoperoxidase treatment of endothelial cells revealed the same pattern and antibody specificity as the fluorescence staining. Thin sections of the peroxidase-stained cells showed decorated filaments close to the substratum and also specific deposits in the endoplasmic reticulum and Weibel-Palade bodies. Control antisera against other selected proteins in endothelial cells failed to stain the Weibel-Palade bodies. These data suggest that the Weibel-Palade bodies of endothelial cells are storage and/or processing organelles for von Willebrand protein.

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