Thrombin bound to a fibrin clot confers angiogenic and haemostatic properties on endothelial progenitor cells

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Recent data suggest that endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are involved in recanalizing venous thrombi. We examined the impact of a fibrin network, and particularly of adsorbed thrombin, on EPCs derived from cord blood CD34+ cells. Fibrin networks generated in microplates by adding CaCl2 to platelet-depleted plasma retained adsorbed thrombin at the average concentration of 4.2 nM per well. EPCs expressed high levels of endothelial cell protein C receptor and thrombomodulin, allowing the generation of activated protein C on the fibrin matrix in the presence of exogenous human protein C. The fibrin matrix induced significant EPC proliferation and, when placed in the lower chamber of a Boyden device, strongly enhanced EPC migration. These effects were partly inhibited by hirudin by 41% and 66%, respectively), which suggests that fibrin-adsorbed thrombin interacts with EPCs via the thrombin receptor PAR-1. Finally, spontaneous lysis of the fibrin network, studied by measuring D-dimer release into the supernatant, was inhibited by EPCs but not by control mononuclear cells. Such an effect was associated with a 10-fold increase in plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) secretion by EPCs cultivated in fibrin matrix. Overall, our data show that EPCs, in addition to their angiogenic potential, have both anticoagulant and antifibrinolytic properties. Thrombin may modulate these properties and contribute to thrombus recanalization by EPCs.

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