Vascular endothelial cell proteoglycans are susceptible to cleavage by neutrophils

Nigel S. Key, Jeffrey L. Platt, Gregory M Vercellotti

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72 Scopus citations


Heparan sulfate proteoglycan associated with vascular endothelial cells in vivo plays an important role in a number of endothelial functions, including the inhibition of intravascular coagulation and extravasation of plasma proteins and blood cells. In this report, we demonstrate that polymorphonuclear neutrophils, as well as cell-free neutrophil supernatants, lead to a rapid and dramatic loss of proteoglycan from endothelial cells in the absence of evidence of cell lysis. This cleavage appears to be relatively (although not absolutely) selective for heparan sulfate and is mediated by neutrophil-derived serine proteases. Inhibitors of neutrophil elastase appear to be the most effective inhibitors of proteoglycan release. Furthermore, purified human neutrophil elastase also leads to cleavage of cellular proteoglycans, although not to the same extent as neutrophils or neutrophil supernatants. Proteoglycans compared with all other protein-containing macromolecules appear to be especially vulnerable to neutrophil-mediated cleavage. The results of this study may be germane to the interaction of neutrophils with endothelium during the inflammatory process, during which the loss of endothelial heparan sulfate proteoglycan may play a critical role in the vascular injury that often accompanies inflammation. (Arteriosclerosis and Thrombosis 1992;12:836-842).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)836-842
Number of pages7
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1992


  • Endothelial cells
  • Heparan sulfate proteoglycans
  • Neutrophils


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