Thrombin regulation of synaptic plasticity: Implications for physiology and pathology

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Thrombin, a serine protease involved in the coagulation cascade has been recently shown to affect neuronal function following blood–brain barrier breakdown. Several lines of evidence have shown that thrombin may exist in the brain parenchyma under normal physiological conditions, yet its role in normal brain functions and synaptic transmission has not been established. In an attempt to shed light on the physiological functions of thrombin and Protease Activated Receptor 1 (PAR1) in the brain, we studied the effects of thrombin and a PAR1 agonist on long term potentiation (LTP) in mice hippocampal slices. Surprisingly, different concentrations of thrombin affect LTP through different molecular routes converging on PAR1. High thrombin concentrations induced an NMDA dependent, slow onset LTP, whereas low concentrations of thrombin promoted a VGCCs, mGluR-5 dependent LTP through activated Protein C (aPC). Remarkably, aPC facilitated LTP by activating PAR1 through an Endothelial Protein C Receptor (EPCR)-mediated mechanism which involves intracellular calcium stores. These findings reveal a novel mechanism by which PAR1 may regulate the threshold for synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus and provide additional insights into the role of this receptor in normal and pathological conditions.


▸ Thrombin levels regulate LTP through diverse molecular routes converging on PAR1. ▸ [Thrombin]high induces a slow onset LTP. ▸ [Thrombin]low enhances LTP by activating Protein C. ▸ Protein C mediates LTP through VGCCs and mGluRs.

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