Fibrin forms the cohesive network of hemostatic plugs and thrombi, and it also provides the temporary matrix for initial support of healing and revascularization. Because cell proliferation is needed for revascularization after vessel injury, we have characterized structural requirements of fibrin needed to support cell proliferation on fibrin in vitro. Proliferation of cultured human endothelial cells and fibroblasts was measured by 3H-thymidine incorporation on fibrin surfaces varying in structure. Fibrin prepared with thrombin and lacking both fibrinopeptides A and B (desAB fibrin) supported proliferation of both endothelial cells and fibroblasts. In contrast, fibrin prepared with reptilase, which cleaves only fibrinopeptide A, supported significantly less proliferation. Also, fibrin prepared by thrombin treatment of fibrinogen lacking residues beta 1–42 supported only a low level of proliferation. Therefore, fibrinopeptide B cleavage and exposure of beta 15–42 enhanced proliferation of cells on fibrin. Specific proteolytic inhibitors were used to eliminate the potential mitogenic effects of residual fibrin-bound thrombin. Additional controls showed that neither catalytically inactive thrombin nor addition of the thrombin receptor-activating peptide (SFLLRNPNDKYEPF [SFLL]) stimulated proliferation on desA fibrin. The results indicate that cell proliferation on fibrin is enhanced by fibrinopeptide B cleavage and exposure of the amino terminus of the fibrin beta chain. They also show that specific structural features of the temporary fibrin matrix formed at sites of injury may modulate the proliferative response of vascular cells.

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