The urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) and its receptor (uPAR) provide a cell surface integrated multimolecular complex that exerts pleiotropic functions influencing the development of inflammatory, immune, coagulation and fibrinolytic responses. Here we review the evidences indicating a role of the uPA/uPAR system in the regulation of the innate immune system in the inflammation process, of the adaptive immune response, as well as the role of fibrin and fibrin degradation products at the cross-road between coagulation and inflammation. Comparative studies have clearly highlighted the notion that coagulation and immunity are co-regulated and intertwined. The implication is that the vertebrate blood clotting system is evolutionarily by product of the innate immune system, where the blood clotting proteases have diverged from those comprising the complement system. Differences have emerged gradually, as shown by the acquisition of unique protein structures, such as kringle domains and gla (glutammic acid) domains, in order to comply with the increasingly complex vertebrate systems and to defend higher organisms against a range of infections and injuries. Plasminogen activation also controls the formation of complement anaphylotoxins (responsibe for vasodilatation, increase of venular permeability and leukocyte chemotaxis) and of bradykinin (which accounts for vasodilatation, increase of venular permeability and pain) by regulating the plasma contact system. The urokinase plasminogen activator and its cellular receptor, expressed on the surface of human leukocytes, provide a functional unit that, by regulating interaction of leukocytes with extracellular matrix, as well as its degradation, is critical for the migration of leukocytes and for their movement in the damaged tissues.
Keywords: uPAR, uPA, inflammation, immunity, coagulation, contact system, plasminogen, vitronectin, bacterial endotoxins, epidermal growth factor, immune system, amino acids, phagocytosis, apoptosis, pro-inflammatory activity
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