Thiol isomerases catalyze disulfide oxidation, reduction and isomerization, playing an important role during protein synthesis. Recent studies suggest a role for protein disulfide isomerase (PDI), a prototype of the thiol isomerase family, in platelet function and regulation of tissue factor activity (Essex and Li. Curr Drug Targets. 2006; Chen and Hogg. J Thromb Haemost. 2006). To determine the role of intravascular PDI during thrombus formation, PDI expression, platelet accumulation, and fibrin generation were monitored following laser-induced arteriolar injury in the mouse cremaster muscle by intravital fluorescence microscopy. PDI antigen exhibited a time-dependent increase in the developing thrombus after vessel wall injury and remained associated with the thrombus. Infusion of bacitracin, a non-specific inhibitor of thiol isomerases, into the circulation inhibited platelet thrombus formation and fibrin generation in a dose-dependent manner. Infusion of a function-blocking monoclonal antibody to PDI (RL90) into the circulation of a wild type mouse also resulted in dose-dependent inhibition of platelet accumulation and fibrin generation. To determine whether PDI inhibits fibrin formation by blocking tissue factor activation, or by preventing platelet activation and the development of the membrane surface that is required for assembly of the tenase and the prothrombinase complex in vivo, we explored fibrin formation in mice lacking protease-activated receptor-4 (Par4). Although there is no stable accumulation of platelets and no platelet activation, fibrin formation is normal in the Par4 null mouse (Vandendries et al, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2007), suggesting that fibrin generation in the laser-induced vessel injury model is independent of platelet activation. Infusion of the function-blocking anti-PDI antibody (RL90) into the circulation of a Par4 null mouse prior to vessel wall injury inhibited fibrin generation. These results indicate that PDI is required to generate tissue factor in a form that leads to thrombin generation and fibrin formation during thrombus development and is required for thrombus formation.

Author notes

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.