A plasmin-activatable thrombin inhibitor reduces experimental thrombosis and assists experimental thrombolysis in murine models
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The leech protein hirudin is a potent natural thrombin inhibitor. Its potential as an antithrombotic agent is limited by its promotion of bleeding. We attempted to modify this profile by positioning albumin and a plasmin cleavage site on its N-terminus, in recombinant protein HSACHV3 [comprising hirudin variant 3 (HV3) fused to the C-terminus of human serum albumin (HSA) via a plasmin cleavage site (C)], Previously we showed that HSACHV3 inhibited thrombin in a plasmin-dependent manner, and that, unlike HV3, it did not increase bleeding in vivo when administered to mice. Here we tested HSACHV3 for the ability to reduce thrombosis and assist enzymatic thrombolysis in animal models. Intravenous administration of HSACHV3, but not a control protein lacking the plasmin cleavage site (HSAHV3), reduced thrombus weight by 2.1-fold in the ferric chloride-injured mouse vena cava. Similarly, thrombi formed in a rabbit jugular vein stasis model were 1.7-fold lighter in animals treated with HSACHV3 compared to those receiving HSAHV3. Administration of 60 mg/kg body weight HSACHV3 prolonged the time to occlusion in the ferric chloride-injured mouse carotid artery by threefold compared to vehicle controls, while equimolar HSAHV3 had no effect. HSACHV3 had no ability to restore flow to the murine carotid arteries occluded by ferric chloride treatment, but combining HSACHV3 (60 mg/kg) with recombinant mutant tissue plasminogen activator (TNKase) significantly reduced the time to restore patency to the artery compared to TNKase alone. Unlike unfused HV3, HSACHV3 did not increase bleeding in a mouse liver laceration model. Our results show that HSACHV3 acts as an antithrombotic agent that does not promote bleeding and which speeds the time to flow restoration when used as an adjunct to pharmacological thrombolysis in animal models.
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