, Volume 359, Issue 1-2, pp 301-313
Date: 23 Aug 2011

Thrombin and vascular inflammation

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Vascular endothelium is a key regulator of homeostasis. In physiological conditions it mediates vascular dilatation, prevents platelet adhesion, and inhibits thrombin generation. However, endothelial dysfunction caused by physical injury of the vascular wall, for example during balloon angioplasty, acute or chronic inflammation, such as in atherothrombosis, creates a proinflammatory environment which supports leukocyte transmigration toward inflammatory sites. At the same time, the dysfunction promotes thrombin generation, fibrin deposition, and coagulation. The serine protease thrombin plays a pivotal role in the coagulation cascade. However, thrombin is not only the key effector of coagulation cascade; it also plays a significant role in inflammatory diseases. It shows an array of effects on endothelial cells, vascular smooth muscle cells, monocytes, and platelets, all of which participate in the vascular pathophysiology such as atherothrombosis. Therefore, thrombin can be considered as an important modulatory molecule of vascular homeostasis. This review summarizes the existing evidence on the role of thrombin in vascular inflammation.