The blood protein fibrinogen as a ligand for integrin and non-integrin receptors functions as the molecular nexus of coagulation, inflammation and immunity. Studies in animal models and in human disease have demonstrated that extravascular fibrinogen that is deposited in tissues upon vascular rupture is not merely a marker, but a mediator of diseases with an inflammatory component, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, sepsis, myocardial infarction and bacterial infection. The present article focuses on the recent discoveries of specific cellular targets and receptors for fibrinogen within tissues that have extended the role of fibrinogen from a coagulation factor to a regulator of inflammation and immunity. Fibrinogen has the potential for selective drug targeting that would target its proinflammatory properties without affecting its beneficial effects in hemostasis, since it interacts with different receptors to mediate blood coagulation and inflammation. Strategies to target receptors for fibrinogen and fibrin within the tissue microenvironment could reveal selective and disease-specific agents for therapeutic intervention in a variety of human diseases associated with fibrin deposition.
Keywords: Coagulation, neurovascular unit, integrins, autoimmunity, tPA, ancrod, plasminogen, blood-brain barrier
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