A potent inhibitor of platelet activating factor from the saliva of the leech Hirudo medicinalis

Prostaglandins. 1992 May;43(5):483-95. doi: 10.1016/0090-6980(92)90130-l.


Leech saliva is shown to contain protein platelet aggregation inhibitors and a range of selective low molecular weight (LMW) aggregation inhibitors. Gel filtration on Bio-Gel P-2 (cut-off kDa) yields a protein fraction (Fr. I) and three LMW fractions. Fr. I inhibits aggregation induced by collagen, ADP, epinephrine and arachidonic acid. Of all the fractions, only one, Fr. II (LMW) specifically inhibits aggregation induced by platelet activating factor (PAF, 1-O-alkyl-2-acetyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphorylcholine). Fr. II also inhibits thrombin-induced platelet aggregation. Fr. III inhibits aggregation induced by ADP, epinephrine and arachidonic acid, and Fr. IV only that induced by arachidonic acid. Fr. II also inhibits PAF- and thrombin-induced thromboxane generation in platelets, but does not inhibit arachidonic acid-induced thromboxane generation. Efforts to separate the anti-PAF from the anti-thrombin activity have been unsuccessful. The inhibition may therefore be due to a single inhibitor, though it may also be due to several inhibitors. Fr. II also inhibits superoxide anion production in formyl Met-Leu-Phe (fMLP)- and ionophore 23187- stimulated neutrophils. This may be due to the inhibition of the effects of PAF generated within the cell. Preliminary results suggest that the Fr. II inhibitor(s) is (are) amphipathic. The interaction of platelets with PAF and their interaction with the inhibitor(s) are mutually exclusive, and the inhibition may be competitive.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Platelets / drug effects
  • Blood Platelets / metabolism
  • Chemical Fractionation
  • Free Radicals / metabolism
  • Hirudins / analysis
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Leeches / chemistry*
  • Molecular Weight
  • Neutrophils / drug effects
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Platelet Activating Factor / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / analysis*
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Saliva / chemistry*
  • Thromboxane A2 / biosynthesis


  • Free Radicals
  • Hirudins
  • Platelet Activating Factor
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Thromboxane A2