Identification of thrombin receptors in rat brain capillary endothelial cells

Katalin Bartha, Eszter Dömötör, Francois Lanza, Vera Adam-Vizi, Raymund Machovich

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Both thrombin and plasmin induce contraction of brain endothelial cells, which may increase capillary permeability thereby leading to disruption of the blood-brain barrier. Identification of thrombin receptors, as well as the influence of plasmin on their activation, in capillary endothelial cells and astrocytes are therefore essential for understanding injury-related actions of thrombin in the brain. Using the reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction method, the present study shows that primary cultures of rat brain capillary endothelial (RBCE) cells and astrocytes derived from rat brain express two different thrombin receptors. The first is proteolytically activated receptor (PAR)-I, the receptor responsible for the vast majority of the thrombin's cellular activation functions; the second is PAR-3, a receptor described to be essential for normal responsiveness to thrombin in mouse platelets. In addition to these thrombin receptors, the mRNA (messenger RNA) for PAR-2, a possible trypsin receptor, was also identified. Functional significance of thrombin receptors was indicated by changes in [Ca2+]i in response to thrombin, as measured by FURA-2 fluorescence in RBCE cells. Thrombin as low as 4 nmol/L induced an abrupt increase in [Ca2+](i) whereas, upon addition of active site-blocked thrombin or plasmin, [Ca2+](i) remained unchanged. The [Ca2+](i) signal attributable to thrombin was smaller in a low Ca2+-containing medium, indicating that an influx of Ca2+ from the extracellular medium makes a contribution to the overall [Ca2+](i) rise. The amplitude of the transient [Ca2+](i) signal was dependent on the concentration of thrombin, and repeated application of the enzyme caused an essentially complete and long-term desensitization of the receptor. The PAR-1 agonist peptide SFLLRN also elicited a transient increase in [Ca2+](i). After activation by SFLLRN, cells showed a diminished response to thrombin, but the response was not absent, indicating that PAR-3 might contribute to the generation of the [Ca2+](i) signal. Pretreatment of RBCE cells with 100 nmol/L plasmin completely prevented [Ca2+](i) rise attributable to thrombin. These data show that RBCE cells and astrocytes express at least two receptors for thrombin, PAR-1 and PAR-3, and probably both receptors are involved in thrombin-induced [Ca2+](i) signals. Plasmin itself does not elevate [Ca2+](i) but prevents the activation of receptors by thrombin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2000



  • Astrocytes
  • Brain capillary endothelial cells
  • Intracellular calcium
  • PAR
  • Plasmin
  • Thrombin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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