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Fibrinogen binds to human platelets after specific receptor sites are exposed by thrombin, ADP, epinephrine, and other stimuli. Since prostaglandin I2 (PGI2), a potent activator of platelet adenylate cyclase, prevents mobilization of the fibrinogen receptor by aggregating agents, we investigated the relationship between platelet cAMP levels and fibrinogen receptor status in thrombin-stimulated human platelets. A dose-dependent rise in platelet cAMP in response to two adenylate cyclase agonists, PGI2 and forskolin, correlated with progressive inhibition of fibrinogen binding. Moreover, the receptor inhibition produced by either agonist was sustained up to 2 h and was associated with a persistent increase in cAMP levels. The phosphodiesterase inhibitor, 1-methyl-3-isobutylxanthine, in the presence of a subthreshold concentration of PGI2 also raised cAMP and inhibited fibrinogen binding. In contrast, the effects of PGI2 on both cAMP and fibrinogen binding were markedly attenuated by 9-(tetrahydro-2-furyl) adenine, an adenylate cyclase inhibitor. These results indicate that the inhibition of fibrinogen binding by PgI2 is linked to its effect on cAMP levels and suggest that elevation of platelet cAMP levels from any cause prevents exposure of the fibrinogen receptor.