1Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Medical School and Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois 60611
Published April 1, 1973 - More info
Lysis of fibrin in tissue culture has been shown to be due to plasminogen activator identified immunologically as urokinase. The present study examines fibrinolytic events in culture, particularly mechanisms leading to increased urokinase levels and accelerated fibrinolysis.
Deposition of fibrin on cells in culture was followed by a two- to six-fold increase in urokinase in the supernates and rapid disappearance of the fibrin. Investigation of factors that might be responsible for these events (including fibrin, fibrinogen, vasoactive stimuli, and the enzymes thrombin and plasmin) indicated that the enhanced urokinase yields were mediated through plasmin and thrombin.
Study of the possible modes of action of thrombin and plasmin indicated that these enzymes are capable of acting on the cells themselves as well as on cell-produced material. The effect on cells was manifested by mitotic activity or, occasionally, cell injury and death. Although these effects influenced urokinase levels, enhanced yields were explained best by the action of enzymes on cellproduced material. Studies with plasmin and thrombin, and also trypsin, indicated that proteolytic enzymes may act in various ways—affect the stability of urokinase, interfere with inhibition of urokinase by naturally occurring inhibitor(s), and induce urokinase activity from inactive material. Plasma and thrombin appeared to act primarily through the latter mechanism.
Inactive material, which gave rise to urokinase upon exposure to proteolytic enzymes and which may represent urokinase precursor, was found in cultures of kidney, lung, spleen, and thyroid. Urokinase in such inactive state appears to be readily accessible to activation by enzymes, particularly plasmin and thrombin, thus facilitating removal of fibrin and possibly also providing pathways to excessive fibrinolysis.