Endotoxin producing bacteria cause disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC); however, the mechanism of endotoxin action in man is still unclear. Impairment of the fibrinolytic system has been suggested as a contributing mechanism. A single injection of Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide in rabbits resulted in a marked and prolonged increase of the levels of a fast-acting inhibitor of plasminogen activator (PA-inhibitor) in plasma (from 3.9 +/- 0.7 to 41 +/- 13.2 U/ml after 3 h). Gel filtration studies indicated that inhibition of human tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA) by rabbit plasma is accompanied by a change in the elution profile of the activator compatible with the formation of an enzyme-inhibitor complex with an apparent molecular weight of 100,000. Injection of human t-PA (1,500 IU/kg body wt) in endotoxin treated animals resulted in very fast inhibition of t-PA and formation of a similar complex. The half-life of circulating PA-inhibitor activity in rabbits was about 7 min as estimated by donor receiver plasma transfusion experiments. Stimulation of cultured human endothelial cells with endotoxin resulted in enhanced rate of accumulation of PA-inhibitor activity in the culture medium (two- to sevenfold increase). In five patients with septicemia, markedly increased levels of PA-inhibitor (14.3 +/- 15.5 U/ml) as compared with control subjects (1.3 +/- 0.7 U/ml) were observed in plasma. A very strong correlation (r = 0.98) was found between inhibition of t-PA and of urokinase in all conditions, suggesting that this fast-acting inhibitor reacts with both plasminogen activators. These data suggest that the appearance of this fast-acting PA-inhibitor is very sensitive to endotoxin stimulation. The marked increase in the level of PA-inhibitor in blood may contribute to the pathogenesis of DIC in septicemia.
M Colucci, J A Paramo, D Collen