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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1975 Jan;72(1):131-5.

Mitogenic activity of blood components. I. Thrombin and prothrombin.


When added to a culture medium of resting confluent chick embryo fibroblasts in the absence of serum, thrombin (EC is able to stimulate DNA synthesis 12 hr later and to cause a substantial increase in cell number over a period of 4 days. As compared to thrombin, prothrombin exhibits low mitogenic activity. However, in the presence of purified Factor Xa (EC and Factor V, prothrombin is converted to thrombin by "thromboplastin activity" supplied by the fibroblasts. Prothrombin, either purified or as a constituent of plasma or serum, may thus be considered to be a reservoir of mitogenic activity in tissue culture unless antithrombin is present in the culture medium in amounts sufficient to neutralize the thrombin formed. By use of a specific inhibitor of proteases, and by separation of prothrombin by absorption on BaSO4, we estimate that the potential mitogenic activity of prothrombin is approximately 30-50% of the total activity that can be obtained by treatment of fibrinogen-free plasma with thromboplastin. In addition to its mitogenic activity, thrombin can also stimulate the migration of cells. These experiments with thrombin illustrate that well-characterized proteases of blood can act as potent mitogens and suggest that they may play a role in the process of wound healing.

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