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Circulation. 2004 Oct 26;110(17):2597-600. Epub 2004 Jul 19.

Clinical inhibition of the seven-transmembrane thrombin receptor (PAR1) by intravenous aprotinin during cardiothoracic surgery.

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  • 1British Heart Foundation Cardiac Surgery Unit, Eric Bywaters Centre, Imperial College, London W12 0NN, UK.



Protease-activated receptor-1 (PAR1) is the principal thrombin receptor in the vasculature, and antagonists against this receptor are in preclinical trials. Aprotinin, already approved for clinical use to reduce transfusion requirements in cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) surgery, has been shown to inhibit PAR1 activation in vitro. Here, we exploit CPB as a model for thrombin generation in humans to examine whether aprotinin can inhibit platelet PAR1 activation clinically.


PAR1 expression and function on platelets was examined in coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) patients randomized into 2 groups: (1) those receiving saline infusion during CPB (n=17) and (2) those receiving aprotinin (2x10(6) kallikrein inhibitor units [KIU] in pump prime, 2x10(6) KIU loading dose, followed by 0.5x10(6) KIU/h [n=13]). Platelets in the saline group showed loss of PAR1-specific function at 2 hours after CPB, but this was preserved in the aprotinin group (P<0.001). These effects were most likely targeted at PAR1 receptor cleavage, because (1) the level of thrombin generated during CPB did not vary significantly between groups, (2) expression of SPAN12, which detects only uncleaved PAR1 receptors, was preserved in the aprotinin but not the placebo group (P<0.05), and (3) supporting evidence in vitro showed reduced thrombin-induced PAR1 cleavage (P<0.001) and platelet aggregation (P<0.001) in the presence of aprotinin.


This study demonstrates that platelet PAR1 activation by thrombin can be inhibited by aprotinin. Our results extend the clinical mechanism of action of aprotinin and provide the first proof of principle that PAR1 can be inhibited clinically. This has implications beyond cardiac surgery for the development of therapeutic PAR1 blockade.

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