Protease-activated receptors 1 and 4 mediate activation of human platelets by thrombin

J Clin Invest. 1999 Mar;103(6):879-87. doi: 10.1172/JCI6042.


Because of the role of thrombin and platelets in myocardial infarction and other pathological processes, identifying and blocking the receptors by which thrombin activates platelets has been an important goal. Three protease-activated receptors (PARs) for thrombin -- PAR1, PAR3, and PAR4 -- are now known. PAR1 functions in human platelets, and the recent observation that a PAR4-activating peptide activates human platelets suggests that PAR4 also acts in these cells. Whether PAR1 and PAR4 account for activation of human platelets by thrombin, or whether PAR3 or still other receptors contribute, is unknown. We have examined the roles of PAR1, PAR3, and PAR4 in platelets. PAR1 and PAR4 mRNA and protein were detected in human platelets. Activation of either receptor was sufficient to trigger platelet secretion and aggregation. Inhibition of PAR1 alone by antagonist, blocking antibody, or desensitization blocked platelet activation by 1 nM thrombin but only modestly attenuated platelet activation by 30 nM thrombin. Inhibition of PAR4 alone using a blocking antibody had little effect at either thrombin concentration. Strikingly, simultaneous inhibition of both PAR1 and PAR4 virtually ablated platelet secretion and aggregation, even at 30 nM thrombin. These observations suggest that PAR1 and PAR4 account for most, if not all, thrombin signaling in platelets and that antagonists that block these receptors might be useful antithrombotic agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / cytology
  • Megakaryocytes / cytology
  • Neutrophils / cytology
  • Platelet Activation*
  • Platelet Aggregation
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Receptor, PAR-1
  • Receptor, PAR-2
  • Receptors, Thrombin / agonists
  • Receptors, Thrombin / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Thrombin / genetics
  • Receptors, Thrombin / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Species Specificity
  • Thrombin / pharmacology*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptor, PAR-1
  • Receptor, PAR-2
  • Receptors, Thrombin
  • protease-activated receptor 3
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Thrombin