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Biochem J. 1991 Mar 15;274 ( Pt 3):799-805.

Thrombin-stimulated events in cultured vascular smooth-muscle cells.

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Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322.


Thrombin is present in high concentrations at sites of clots and may have important post-clotting effects on adjacent vascular tissue. This may be particularly important for vascular smooth-muscle cells (VSMC), whose growth and contractility are altered following atherosclerotic-associated thromboses. To study the cellular signal events by which thrombin exerts its actions, the effects of purified human alpha-thrombin were examined in cultured rat aortic VSMC. alpha-Thrombin stimulated a biphasic change in intracellular pH (pHi), causing an early rapid acidification, followed by a sustained alkalinization. The increase in pHi was dependent on extracellular Na+ and inhibited by 5'-(NN-dimethyl)amiloride, consistent with mediation by Na+/H+ exchange. alpha-Thrombin rapidly increased free intracellular [Ca2+] ([Ca2+]i). The increase in [Ca2+]i was secondary to activation of phospholipase C, as demonstrated by increases in InsP3 (226%) and InsP2 (387%) and decreases in polyphosphoinositides at 15 s. Expression of the mRNA for the proto-oncogene c-fos was induced by alpha-thrombin. Stimulation of c-fos mRNA was not dependent on alterations in pHi, but required a rise in [Ca2+]i. Despite many growth-related signals shared by alpha-thrombin with platelet-derived growth factor, alpha-thrombin failed to stimulate [3H]thymidine incorporation or cell division, although there was a maximal increase of 52% in protein synthesis. The data suggest that there are cellular signal events not activated by alpha-thrombin which are required for proliferation of these aortic VSMC.

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