Deleterious effects of plasminogen activators in neonatal cerebral hypoxia-ischemia.

Division of Developmental Biology and Division of Neurology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Research Foundation, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA.
American Journal Of Pathology (Impact Factor: 4.6). 06/2008; 172(6):1704-16. DOI: 10.2353/ajpath.2008.070979
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The immature brains of newborns often respond differently from the brains of adults when exposed to similar insults. Previous studies have indicated that although hypoxia-ischemia (HI) induces persistent thrombosis in adult brains, it only modestly impairs blood perfusion in newborn brains. Here, we used the Vannucci model of HI encephalopathy to study age-related responses to cerebral HI in rat pups. We found that HI triggered fibrin deposition and impaired blood perfusion in both neonatal and adult brains. However, these effects were only transient in neonatal brains (<4 hours) and were accompanied by acute induction of both tissue-type and urinary-type plasminogen activators (tPA and uPA), which was not observed in adult brains subjected to the same insult. Interestingly, activation of the plasminogen system persisted up to 24 hours in neonatal brains, long after the clearance of fibrin-rich thrombi. Furthermore, astrocytes and macrophages outside blood vessels expressed tPA after HI, suggesting the possibility of tPA/plasmin-mediated cytotoxicity. Consistent with this hypothesis, injection of alpha2-antiplasmin into cerebral ventricles markedly ameliorated HI-induced damage to neurofilaments and white matter oligodendrocytes, providing a dose-response reduction of brain injury after 7 days of recovery. Conversely, ventricular injection of tPA increased HI-induced brain damage. Together, these results suggest that tPA/plasmin induction, which may contribute to acute fibrinolysis, is a critical component of extravascular proteolytic damage in immature brains, representing a new therapeutic target for the treatment of HI encephalopathy.

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