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J Immunol. 1996 Mar 15;156(6):2256-63.

A physiologic anti-inflammatory pathway based on thrombomodulin expression and generation of activated protein C by human mononuclear phagocytes.

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Departtment of Pathology and Immunology, Monash Medical School, Prahran, Victoria, Australia.


The endothelial molecule thrombomodulin (TM) regulates hemostasis by binding thrombin and promoting conversion of protein C to activated protein C (aPC). Apart from its anticoagulant actions, aPC modulates mononuclear phagocyte (M phi) activation, including TNF-alpha production, indicating interrelationships of the coagulation and immune systems. While the endothelium is considered to be the prime regulator of aPC generation, TM recently has been identified M phi and neutrophils. This study analyzes TM membrane expression by human blood monocytes, alveolar macrophages, and U937 cells cultured in the presence of various stimuli. All except U937 cell expressed high levels of surface TM. Surprisingly, stimulation with LPS or TNF-alpha further up-regulated TM expression by M phi, whereas cultured endothelial cells (EC) showed decreased TM expression. However, noninflammatory stimuli induced qualitatively similar changes in M phi and EC; all-trans retinoic acid and prostaglandin E up-regulated surface TM, and PMA decreased TM expression. Changes in M phi TM expression were accompanied by alteration in functional activity. Thus, LPS increased the TM cofactor activity of THP-1 cells by 27 +/- 6.9% (p < 0.05), and PMA decreased their cofactor activity by 53.2 +/- 11.5% (p < 0.05).In addition, in vivo relevance was demonstrated by the presence of TM on intragraft inflammatory M phi during cardiac rejection, whereas adjacent EC lacked TM expression. These studies demonstrate that expression of TM on human M phi is regulated differently to EC with respect to inflammatory stimuli, suggesting the potential for extravascular M phi to promote local production of aPC.

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