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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Enhanced tissue plasminogen activator synthesis by the sympathetic neurons that innervate aging vessels.

We investigated the source of the increased release of tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) into the circulation that occurs during natural aging. Both the basal release and the acute stress-associated release induced by sympathetic stimulations are greater in older subjects. It is widely assumed that the source of these increases is vascular endothelium. However, the sympathetic neurons that densely innervate resistance vessel walls were recently shown to synthesize and transport active t-PA to axon terminals in vascular smooth muscle, suggesting an alternative source. These fine t-PA-bearing axons lie in the seldom-studied deep adventitia of vessel walls, where they are less visible than endothelium in tissue sections. Using Northern blot analysis, we observed that t-PAmRNA synthesis is increased 54% in the ganglion parent neuron cell bodies that innervate aged vessels. The t-PA release from isolated, aged ganglia in cultures was twofold greater than that from younger controls. In addition, aged whole-artery explants showed a 20% greater basal and a 50% greater acute release of stored t-PA in vitro. In vivo levels of active t-PA were 33% greater in the blood and 40% greater in the aqueous humor. These results are consistent with an increased infusion of the active t-PA protease from sympathetic axon terminals into the vessel wall extracellular matrix and the blood during natural aging, in addition to the basal endothelial release. We suggest that the cumulative impact of an accelerated plasmin production and matrix degradation within vessel walls, especially during repetitive stress, may play an unrecognized role in the pathogenesis of vascular aging. The possibility that increased sympathetic nervous system plasminogenesis influences the aging process in nonvascular tissues also deserves further investigation.[1]


  1. Enhanced tissue plasminogen activator synthesis by the sympathetic neurons that innervate aging vessels. Jiang, X., Hand, A.R., Shen, S., Cone, R.E., O'Rourke, J. J. Neurosci. Res. (2003) [Pubmed]
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