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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2003 May;305(2):417-25. Epub 2003 Jan 24.

Thrombin and protease-activated receptor-1 agonists promote lipopolysaccharide-induced hepatocellular injury in perfused livers.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, B-346 Life Sciences Bldg., Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.


Bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is a potent inflammatory agent capable of producing liver injury, the pathogenesis of which depends on numerous mediators, including thrombin. Previous studies showed that thrombin promotes LPS-induced liver injury independent of its ability to form fibrin clots. In isolated, buffer-perfused livers from LPS-treated rats, thrombin added to the perfusion buffer caused dose-dependent liver injury with an EC(50) value of 0.4 nM, consistent with activation by thrombin of a protease-activated receptor (PAR). Actions of thrombin at PARs can be mimicked by thrombin receptor-activating peptides (TRAPs). TRAPs for PAR-1 reproduced the injury caused by thrombin in isolated livers, suggesting that one mechanism by which thrombin promotes LPS-induced liver injury is by activating PAR-1. Immunocytochemistry demonstrated the presence of PAR-1 on sinusoidal endothelial cells and Kupffer cells but not on parenchymal cells or neutrophils. Previous studies showed that thrombin interacts with neutrophils in the genesis of liver injury after LPS treatment. To explore this interaction further, the influence of thrombin on mediators that modulate neutrophil function were evaluated. Inhibition of thrombin in LPS-treated rats prevented liver injury but did not prevent up-regulation of cytokine-induced neutrophil chemoattractant-1, macrophage inflammatory protein-2, or intercellular adhesion molecule-1. Thrombin inhibition did, however, prevent neutrophil (PMN) degranulation in vivo as measured by plasma elastase levels. In addition, elastase concentration was increased in the perfusion medium of livers isolated from LPS-treated rats and perfused with TRAPs. These results suggest that activation of PAR-1 after LPS exposure promotes PMN activation and hepatic parenchymal cell injury.

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