Plasminogen (Plg) is the zymogen form of the serine protease plasmin (Plm), and it plays a crucial role in fibrinolysis as well as wound healing, immunity, tissue remodeling and inflammation. Binding to the targets via the lysine-binding sites allows for Plg activation by plasminogen activators (PAs) present on the same target. Cellular uptake of fibrin degradation products leads to apoptosis, which represents one of the pathways for cross-talk between fibrinolysis and tissue remodeling. Therapeutic manipulation of Plm activity plays a vital role in the treatments of a range of diseases, whereas Plm inhibitors are used in trauma and surgeries as antifibrinolytic agents. Plm inhibitors are also used in conditions such as angioedema, menorrhagia and melasma. Here, we review the rationale for the further development of new Plm inhibitors, with a particular focus on the structural studies of the active site inhibitors of Plm. We compare the binding mode of different classes of inhibitors and comment on how it relates to their efficacy, as well as possible future developments.

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