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Blüm, Philipp; Pircher, Joachim; Merkle, Monika; Czermak, Thomas; Ribeiro, Andrea; Mannell, Hanna; Krötz, Florian; Hennrich, Alexander; Spannagl, Michael; Köppel, Simone; Gaitzsch, Erik; Wörnle, Markus (2017): Arterial thrombosis in the context of HCV-associated vascular disease can be prevented by protein C. In: Cellular & Molecular Immunology, Vol. 14, No. 12: pp. 986-996
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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major problem worldwide. HCV is not limited to liver disease but is frequently complicated by immune-mediated extrahepatic manifestations such as glomerulonephritis or vasculitis. A fatal complication of HCV-associated vascular disease is thrombosis. Polyriboinosinic: polyribocytidylic acid (poly (I: C)), a synthetic analog of viral RNA, induces a Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3)-dependent arteriolar thrombosis without significant thrombus formation in venules in vivo. These procoagulant effects are caused by increased endothelial synthesis of tissue factor and PAI-1 without platelet activation. In addition to human umbilical endothelial cells (HUVEC), human mesangial cells (HMC) produce procoagulatory factors, cytokines and adhesion molecules after stimulation with poly (I: C) or HCV-containing cryoprecipitates from a patient with a HCV infection as well. Activated protein C (APC) is able to prevent the induction of procoagulatory factors in HUVEC and HMC in vitro and blocks the effects of poly (I: C) and HCV-RNA on the expression of cytokines and adhesion molecules in HMC but not in HUVEC. In vivo, protein C inhibits poly (I: C)-induced arteriolar thrombosis. Thus, endothelial cells are de facto able to actively participate in immune-mediated vascular thrombosis caused by viral infections. Finally, we provide evidence for the ability of protein C to inhibit TLR3-mediated arteriolar thrombosis caused by HCV infection.