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Adv Immunol. 2014;121:41-89. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-800100-4.00002-7.

Pathogenic mechanisms of bradykinin mediated diseases: dysregulation of an innate inflammatory pathway.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA. Electronic address:
  • 2Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA.


Binding of negatively charged macromolecules to factor XII induces a conformational change such that it becomes a substrate for trace amounts of activated factor present in plasma (less than 0.01%). As activated factor XII (factor XIIa or factor XIIf) forms, it converts prekallikrein (PK) to kallikrein and kallikrein cleaves high molecular weight kininogen (HK) to release bradykinin. A far more rapid activation of the remaining unactivated factor XII occurs by enzymatic cleavage by kallikrein (kallikrein-feedback) and sequential cleavage yields two forms of activated factor XII; namely, factor XIIa followed by factor XII fragment (factor XIIf). PK circulates bound to HK and binding induces a conformational change in PK so that it acquires enzymatic activity and can stoichiometrically cleave HK to produce bradykinin. This reaction is prevented from occurring in plasma by the presence of C1 inhibitor (C1 INH). The same active site leads to autoactivation of the PK-HK complex to generate kallikrein if a phosphate containing buffer is used. Theoretically, formation of kallikrein by this factor XII-independent route can activate surface-bound factor XII to generate factor XIIa resulting in a marked increase in the rate of bradykinin formation as stoichiometric reactions are replaced by Michaelis-Menton, enzyme-substrate, kinetics. Zinc-dependent binding of the constituents of the bradykinin-forming cascade to the surface of endothelial cells is mediated by gC1qR and bimolecular complexes of gC1qR-cytokeratin 1 and cytokeratin 1-u-PAR (urokinase plasminogen activator receptor). Factor XII and HK compete for binding to free gC1qR (present in excess) while cytokeratin 1-u-PAR preferentially binds factor XII and gC1qR-cytokeratin 1 preferentially binds HK. Autoactivation of factor XII can be initiated as a result of binding to gC1qR but is prevented by C1 INH. Yet stoichiometric activation of PK-HK to yield kallikrein in the absence of factor XII can be initiated by heat shock protein 90 (HSP-90) which forms a zinc-dependent trimolecular complex by binding to HK. Thus, endothelial cell-dependent activation can be initiated by activation of factor XII or by activation of PK-HK. Hereditary angioedema (HAE), types I and II, are due to autosomal dominant mutations of the C1 INH gene. In type I disease, the level of C1 INH protein and function is proportionately low, while type II disease has a normal protein level but diminished function. There is trans-inhibition of the one normal gene so that functional levels are 30% or less and severe angioedema affecting peripheral structures, the gastrointestinal tract, and the larynx results. Prolonged incubation of plasma of HAE patients (but not normal controls) leads to bradykinin formation and conversion of PK to kallikrein which is reversed by reconstitution with C1 INH. The disorder can be treated by C1 INH replacement, inhibition of plasma kallikrein, or blockade at the bradykinin B-2 receptor. A recently described HAE with normal C1 INH (based on inhibition of activated C1s) presents similarly; the defect is not yet clear, however one-third of patients have a mutant factor XII gene. We have shown that this HAE has a defect in bradykinin overproduction whether the factor XII mutation is present or not, that patients' C1 INH is capable of inhibiting factor XIIa and kallikrein (and not just activated C1) but the functional level is approximately 40-60% of normal, and that α2 macroglobulin protein levels are normal. In vitro abnormalities can be suppressed by raising C1 INH to twice normal levels. Finally, aggregated proteins have been shown to activate the bradykinin-forming pathway by catalyzing factor XII autoactivation. Those include the amyloid β protein of Alzheimer's disease and cryoglobulins. This may represent a new avenue for kinin-dependent research in human disease. In allergy (anaphylaxis; perhaps other mast cell-dependent reactions), the oversulfated proteoglycan of mast cells, liberated along with histamine, also catalyze factor XII autoactivation.

© 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Angioedema; Bradykinin; C1 inhibitor; Factor XII; Kallikrein; Kininogen

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