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      Urokinase Plasminogen Activator Colocalizes with CD25+ Cells in Atherosclerotic Vessels

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          Proteolytic activity in vascular tissue is necessary for cellular migration, remodelling of extracellular matrix and the development of atherosclerotic lesions. Inflammatory cells, mainly macrophages, are numerous in atherosclerotic plaques and may synthesize and secrete proteolytic enzymes. The principal activator of plasminogen in tissues is urokinase plasminogen activator (u-PA). To determine if an activated phenotype of inflammatory cells colocalizes with local expression of u-PA in atherosclerotic vessels, vascular biopsies from 15 patients with peripheral atherosclerotic disease were analyzed by immunohistochemistry on consecutive sections. Anti-CD68 antibodies were used as markers for macrophages and were positive in 14/15 specimens. Anti-CD25 (interleukin-2 receptor-α) antibodies were used to identify inflammatory cells with an activated phenotype and were positive in 9/14 CD68+ specimens. The same 9 specimens were positive for u-PA. A positive reaction for u-PA was found only in specimens with CD25+ cells. Specimens with positive reactions for all three antibodies were further analyzed with computer-assisted image analysis. The colocalization with u-PA was higher for CD25 compared to CD68 in all specimens. Mean percentage of the u-PA-positive area in regions positive for cellular markers was 52% (SEM 6%) for CD25 and 19% (SEM 5%) for CD68 (p < 0.01). The results indicated that the activation of macrophages in atherosclerotic vessels may modulate local proteolysis and be of importance in plaque development and stability.

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          Urokinase-generated plasmin activates matrix metalloproteinases during aneurysm formation.

          The molecular mechanisms predisposing to atherosclerotic aneurysm formation remain undefined. Nevertheless, rupture of aortic aneurysms is a major cause of death in Western societies, with few available treatments and poor long-term prognosis. Indirect evidence suggests that matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and plasminogen activators (PAs) are involved in its pathogenesis. MMPs are secreted as inactive zymogens (pro-MMPs), requiring activation in the extracellular compartment. Plasmin, generated from the zymogen plasminogen by tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA) or urokinase-type plasminogen activator (u-PA; refs 14,15), has been proposed as a possible activator in vitro, but evidence for such a role in vivo is lacking. Analysis of atherosclerotic aorta in mice with a deficiency of apoliprotein E (Apoe-/-; ref. 18), singly or combined with a deficiency of t-PA (Apoe-/-:Plat-/-) or of u-PA (Apoe-/-:Plau-/-; ref. 19), indicated that deficiency of u-PA protected against media destruction and aneurysm formation, probably by means of reduced plasmin-dependent activation of pro-MMPs. This genetic evidence suggests that plasmin is a pathophysiologically significant activator of pro-MMPs in vivo and may have implications for the design of therapeutic strategies to prevent aortic-wall destruction by controlling Plau gene function.
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            The receptor for urokinase type plasminogen activator polarizes expression of the protease to the leading edge of migrating monocytes and promotes degradation of enzyme inhibitor complexes

            Receptor-bound urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) remains associated to the surface of human monocytes for many hours. Monocytes induced to migrate in a chemotactic gradient of f-Met-Leu-Phe rapidly polarize their uPA receptors to the leading front of the cells. Receptor-bound enzyme can be inhibited by plasminogen activator inhibitor 2 (PAI-2), with a kinetics comparable to that determined for the free enzyme, and uPA/PAI-2 complexes can bind to the uPA receptor. In contrast to the active enzyme, the uPA/PAI-2 complex is rapidly cleared from the monocyte cell surface; this involves an initial cleavage of the complex at the cell surface, followed by endocytosis and degradation. These results indicate that the uPA receptor can function both to focus plasmin-mediated extracellular matrix degradation in front of migrating cells, and to target uPA/PAI-2 enzyme/inhibitor complexes for degradation; they suggest that this receptor is a key determinant in the control of uPA-catalyzed extracellular proteolysis.

              Author and article information

              J Vasc Res
              Journal of Vascular Research
              S. Karger AG
              October 1998
              28 October 1998
              : 35
              : 5
              : 318-324
              a Department of Surgery, b Wallenberg Laboratory for Cardiovascular Research, c Department of Applied Cell Biology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden
              25601 J Vasc Res 1998;35:318–324
              © 1998 S. Karger AG, Basel

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              Page count
              Figures: 4, References: 23, Pages: 7
              Research Paper


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