TF (tissue factor) is the main trigger of the coagulation cascade; by binding Factor VIIa it activates Factor IX and Factor X, thereby resulting in fibrin formation. Various stimuli, such as cytokines, growth factors and biogenic amines, induce TF expression and activity in vascular cells. Downstream targets of these mediators include diverse signalling molecules such as MAPKs (mitogen-activated protein kinases), PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase) and PKC (protein kinase C). In addition, TF can be detected in the bloodstream, known as circulating or blood-borne TF. Many cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidaemia and smoking, are associated with increased expression of TF. Furthermore, in patients presenting with acute coronary syndromes, elevated levels of circulating TF are found. Apart from its role in thrombosis, TF has pro-atherogenic properties, as it is involved in neointima formation by inducing vascular smooth muscle cell migration. As inhibition of TF action appears to be an attractive target for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, therapeutic strategies are under investigation to specifically interfere with the action of TF or, alternatively, promote the effects of TFPI (TF pathway inhibitor).

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