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Platelet-derived serotonin links vascular disease and tissue fibrosis
Distler, Jörg H.W.
The Journal of Experimental Medicine
Blocking 5-HT2B receptor provides a therapeutic target for fibrotic diseases caused by activated platelet release of serotonin during vascular damage.
Vascular damage and platelet activation are associated with tissue remodeling in diseases such as systemic sclerosis, but the molecular mechanisms underlying this association have not been identified. In this study, we show that serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine [5-HT]) stored in platelets strongly induces extracellular matrix synthesis in interstitial fibroblasts via activation of 5-HT2B receptors (5-HT2B) in a transforming growth factor β (TGF-β)–dependent manner. Dermal fibrosis was reduced in 5-HT2B−/− mice using both inducible and genetic models of fibrosis. Pharmacologic inactivation of 5-HT2B also effectively prevented the onset of experimental fibrosis and ameliorated established fibrosis. Moreover, inhibition of platelet activation prevented fibrosis in different models of skin fibrosis. Consistently, mice deficient for TPH1, the rate-limiting enzyme for 5-HT production outside the central nervous system, showed reduced experimental skin fibrosis. These findings suggest that 5-HT/5-HT2B signaling links vascular damage and platelet activation to tissue remodeling and identify 5-HT2B as a novel therapeutic target to treat fibrotic diseases.
Disruption of the protein C inhibitor gene results in impaired spermatogenesis and male infertility
Binder, Bernd R.
The Journal of Clinical Investigation
Protein C inhibitor (PCI) is a nonspecific, heparin-binding serpin (serine protease inhibitor) that inactivates many plasmatic and extravascular serine proteases by forming stable 1:1 complexes. Proteases inhibited by PCI include the anticoagulant activated protein C, the plasminogen activator urokinase, and the sperm protease acrosin. In humans PCI circulates as a plasma protein but is also present at high concentrations in organs of the male reproductive tract. The biological role of PCI has not been defined so far. However, the colocalization of high concentrations of PCI together with several of its target proteases in the male reproductive tract suggests a role of PCI in reproduction. We generated mice lacking PCI by homologous recombination. Here we show that PCI–/– mice are apparently healthy but that males of this genotype are infertile. Infertility was apparently caused by abnormal spermatogenesis due to destruction of the Sertoli cell barrier, perhaps due to unopposed proteolytic activity. The resulting sperm are malformed and are morphologically similar to abnormal sperm seen in some cases of human male infertility. This animal model might therefore be useful for analyzing the molecular bases of these human conditions.
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