The proteinase-activated receptor 2 (PAR-2) expression is increased in endothelial cells derived from women with preeclampsia, characterized by widespread maternal endothelial damage, which occurs as a consequence of elevated soluble vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 (sVEGFR-1; commonly known as sFlt-1) in the maternal circulation. Because PAR-2 is upregulated by proinflammatory cytokines and activated by blood coagulation serine proteinases, we investigated whether activation of PAR-2 contributed to sVEGFR-1 release. PAR-2–activating peptides (SLIGRL-NH2 and 2-furoyl-LIGRLO-NH2) and factor Xa increased the expression and release of sVEGFR-1 from human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Enzyme-specific, dominant-negative mutants and small interfering RNA were used to demonstrate that PAR-2–mediated sVEGFR-1 release depended on protein kinase C-ß1 and protein kinase C-e, which required intracellular transactivation of epidermal growth factor receptor 1, leading to mitogen-activated protein kinase activation. Overexpression of heme oxygenase 1 and its gaseous product, carbon monoxide, decreased PAR-2–stimulated sVEGFR-1 release from human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Simvastatin, which upregulates heme oxygenase 1, also suppressed PAR-2–mediated sVEGFR-1 release. These results show that endothelial PAR-2 activation leading to increased sVEGFR-1 release may contribute to the maternal vascular dysfunction observed in preeclampsia and highlights the PAR-2 pathway as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of preeclampsia.
- factor Xa