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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1995 Jul;15(7):893-902.

Quantification of plasminogen activators and their inhibitors in the aortic vessel wall in relation to the presence and severity of atherosclerotic disease.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Münster, Germany.


Increased expression of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) has been demonstrated in the human atherosclerotic vessel wall and may contribute to the impaired plasma fibrinolytic capacity in patients at high risk of atherothrombotic events. In addition, the mural PA/plasmin system may have important pathobiologic functions during atherogenesis. We quantitatively analyzed PAs of the tissue type (TPA) and urokinase type (UPA), PAIs, and plasminogen in protein extracts from different layers of human aorta in relation to the presence and severity of atherosclerotic lesions. In comparison with normal control vessels, intimal and neointimal TPA concentrations were reduced in atherosclerotic aortas except in the necrotic core areas of advanced plaques, where TPA was mainly complexed to PAI-1 in extracellular matrix deposits. In the media, TPA antigen was higher in lesional segments and closely associated with smooth muscle cells. UPA antigen was increased in the intima of atherosclerotic lesions and colocalized with tissue-infiltrating macrophages and neointimal smooth muscle cells. By spectrophotometric assay, neither TPA nor UPA activity could be detected in intimal or medial extracts. PAI-1 concentrations increased significantly in the intima of atherosclerotic segments compared with adjacent uninvolved areas or control aortas. The immunohistochemical distribution of PAI-1 was similar to that observed for TPA. A large excess of PAI-1 over PA concentrations, particularly in the intimal layer, characterizes atherosclerotic lesions of the human aorta and suggests that PA action is locally confined and counterbalanced by enhanced PAI expression and accumulation.

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