Vascular cell adhesion and migration, proliferation or differentiation are cellular responses that are induced by haemostatic factors of the urokinase/plasminogen activation complex, but the respective underlying mechanisms are largely undefined. The direct and indirect contributions of the urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR) system in inflammatory processes, as they relate to recruitment of leukocytes, define novel functions and could serve as therapeutic targets for related vasculopathies. The presence of uPAR plays a crucial role in β2-integrin-mediated adhesion of leukocytes; uPAR also directly mediates leukocyte adhesion to vitronectin, a multifunctional adhesion protein that is associated with the extracellular matrix. The latter process is inhibited by plasminogen activator inhibitor-1. Both β2-integrin- and uPAR-dependent processes are activated by Zn2+ and are blocked by high-molecular-mass kininogen. Domain 5 of kininogen was identified, in particular, as an anti-adhesive component with a potent antiinflammatory action in a peritonitis mouse model. In patients with acute myocardial infarction, elevated expression of uPAR on monocytes resulted in their increased adherence to the endothelium, which indicates a possible role of the uPAR system in monocyte recruitment to the infarcted area. Urokinase-type plasminogen activator was identified as a potent mitogen for vascular smooth muscle cells, an observation that was independent of the presence of uPAR and its proteolytic activity. Taken together, these results strongly suggest an essential role for the uPAR system in acute inflammation as well as in chronic degenerative vascular processes such as atherosclerosis. Targeting the uPAR system may allow specific therapeutic intervention in vascular pathologies.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.