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Beneficial and detrimental effects of plasmin(ogen) during infection and sepsis in mice.

Plasmin has been proposed to be an important mediator during inflammation/infection. In this study, by using mice lacking genes for plasminogen, tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA), and urokinase-type PA (uPA), we have investigated the functional roles of active plasmin in infection and sepsis. Two models were used: an infection model by intravenous injection of 1×10⁷ CFU of S. aureus, and a sepsis model by intravenous injection of 1.6×10⁸ CFU of S. aureus. We found that in the infection model, wild-type (WT) mice showed significantly higher survival rates than plasminogen-deficient (plg⁻/⁻) mice. However, in the sepsis model, plg⁻/⁻ or tPA⁻/⁻/uPA⁻/⁻ mice showed the highest survival rate whereas WT and tPA⁺/⁻/uPA⁺/⁻ mice showed the lowest survival rate, and plg⁺/⁻, tPA⁻/⁻, and uPA⁻/⁻ mice had an intermediate survival rate. These results indicate that the levels of active plasmin are critical in determining the survival rate in the sepsis, partly through high levels of inflammatory cytokines and enhanced STAT3 activation. We conclude that plasmin is beneficial in infection but promotes the production of inflammatory cytokines in sepsis that may cause tissue destruction, diminished neutrophil function, and an impaired capacity to kill bacteria which eventually causes death of these mice.

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Role of plasminogen activator in spinal cord remodeling after spinal cord injury.

Plasminogen activators play an active role in synaptic plasticity associated with the crossed phrenic phenomenon (CPP) and recovery of respiratory function following spinal cord injury. A genetic approach has been used to identify molecular mechanisms underlying this synaptic plasticity. Knockout mice lacking different genes in the plasminogen activator/plasmin system demonstrate that expression of urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) is required during the critical 1-2h delay period following C2-hemisection for the acquisition of a good CPP response. uPA knockout mice fail to show the structural remodeling of phrenic motorneuron synapses that underlie the CPP response. Potential mechanisms by which uPA may promote phrenic motorneuron synaptic plasticity have been explored. Expression of uPA receptors, uPAR and LRP-1, are both up-regulated in the ipsilateral phrenic motor nucleus (PMN) following C2-hemisection. A comparison of microarray data and real-time PCR analysis of mRNAs induced in the PMN after hemisection indicate potential cell signaling pathways downstream of uPA's interaction with these cell surface receptors in the PMN. Knowledge of these uPA-mediated signaling pathways may identify potential means for the pharmacological activation of the synaptic plasticity required for recovery of phrenic motorneuron activity.

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Urokinase-type plasminogen activator supports liver repair independent of its cellular receptor.

The urokinase-type (uPA) and tissue-type (tPA) plasminogen activators regulate liver matrix remodelling through the conversion of plasminogen (Plg) to the active protease plasmin. Based on the efficient activation of plasminogen when uPA is bound to its receptor (uPAR) and on the role of uPA in plasmin-mediated liver repair, we hypothesized that uPA requires uPAR for efficient liver repair.

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Plasminogen-dependent activation of latent transforming growth factor beta (TGF beta) by growing cultures of osteoblast-like cells.

Osteoblasts secrete transforming growth factor beta (TGF beta) as a biologically inert, latent complex that must be dissociated before the growth factor can exert its effects. We have examined the production and proteolytic activation of latent TGF beta (LTGF beta) by clonal UMR 106-01 rat osteosarcoma cells and neonatal mouse calvarial (MC) osteoblast-like cells in vitro. Synthetic bPTH-(1-34) increased the activity of tissue-type (tPA) and urokinase-type (uPA) plasminogen activators (PA) in cell lysates (CL) of UMR 106-01 cells. The concentration of active TGF beta in serum-free CM from cultures treated with bPTH-(1-34) and plasminogen was significantly greater than in CM from untreated controls and cultures treated with either bPTH-(1-34) or plasminogen alone. This effect occurred at concentrations of PTH-(1-34) that increased PA activity and was prevented by aprotinin, an inhibitor of plasmin activity. Treatment with bPTH-(1-34) had no effect on the concentration of TGF beta in acid-activated samples of CM. Functional consequences of proteolytically activated TGF beta was examined in primary cultures of neonatal MC osteoblast-like cells. Human platelet TGF beta 1 caused a dose-dependent increase in the migration of these cells in an in vitro wound healing assay. Cell migration was also stimulated in cultures treated with bPTH-(1-34) and plasminogen together. This effect was blocked by an anti-TGF beta 1 antibody. The results of these studies demonstrate that (1) LTGF beta secreted by osteoblasts in vitro is activated under conditions where the plasmin activity in the cultures is increased, and (2) the TGF beta generated by plasmin-mediated proteolysis is biologically active. We suggest that the local concentration of TGF beta in bone may be controlled by the osteoblast-associated plasminogen activator/plasmin system. Furthermore, since several calciotropic factors influence osteoblast PA activity, this system may have an important role in mediating their anabolic and/or catabolic effects.

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