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J Biomed Mater Res A. 2012 May;100(5):1239-47. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.34007. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

High thrombin concentrations in fibrin sealants induce apoptosis in human keratinocytes.

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Biosurgery, Baxter Innovations GmbH, Vienna, Austria.


Over the last century many studies have been performed to assess the impact of fibrin sealant (FS) components on cells. Because of the noncovalent bonding of thrombin to fibrin during fibrin clot formation, we wanted to further evaluate the impact of fibrin bound thrombin on cell viability. Initially, we quantified the activity of thrombin in three different, commercially available FS. This information was used to prepare fibrin clots covering a range of thrombin concentrations from 4 to 820 IU mL(-1), but which were identical with respect to all other constituents. Although these fibrin clots did not differ in their three-dimensional structure, clots prepared with highly concentrated thrombin (820 IU mL(-1)) failed to support adhesion and spreading of primary human keratinocytes (NHEK). The number of attached cells was also significantly reduced on high thrombin activity clots. We hypothesized that these observations are not only the consequence of decreased proliferation but of apoptotic mechanisms, since the expression of cleaved caspase 3 and 7 was strongly enhanced on fibrin clots with high thrombin activity. This was accompanied by an induction of expression of Trail-R2 which is a receptor known to mediate apoptosis signals. Blocking of thrombin activity by hirudin led to an improvement of cell morphology and to an increase in number of attached cells. In addition, the induction of caspase 3 and 7 was also reduced. Thus, here we report for the first time that fibrin bound thrombin does not only decrease proliferation (as already published by others), it also does induce NHEK apoptosis when present at high concentrations.

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