Objectives: We sought to test the hypothesis that cigarette smoking adversely alters protease-activated receptor type 1 (PAR-1)-mediated vascular effects in vivo in humans.
Background: Distinct from its role in the coagulation cascade, thrombin exerts its major cellular and cardiovascular actions via PAR-1. The activation of PAR-1 causes endothelium-dependent arterial vasodilation and the release of endogenous fibrinolytic factors.
Methods: Forearm blood flow was measured with venous occlusion plethysmography in 12 cigarette smokers and 12 age- and gender-matched nonsmokers during intrabrachial infusions of PAR-1-activating-peptide (SFLLRN; 5 to 50 nmol/min), bradykinin (100 to 1,000 pmol/min), and sodium nitroprusside (2 to 8 mug/min). Plasma tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) and plasminogen-activator inhibitor 1 antigen and activity concentrations were measured throughout the experiment.
Results: All agonists caused dose-dependent increases in forearm blood flow (p < 0.0001 for all). Although bradykinin and sodium nitroprusside caused similar vasodilation, SFLLRN-induced vasodilation was attenuated in smokers (p = 0.04). Smokers had modest reductions in bradykinin-induced active t-PA release (reduced by 37%, p = 0.03) and had a marked impairment of SFLLRN-induced t-PA antigen (p = 0.02) and activity (p = 0.006) release, with a 96% reduction in overall net t-PA antigen release. The use of SFLLRN also caused similar (p = NS) increases in inactive plasminogen-activator inhibitor 1 in both smokers and nonsmokers (p <or= 0.002 for both).
Conclusions: Cigarette smoking causes marked impairment of PAR-1-mediated endothelial vasomotor and fibrinolytic function. Relative arterial stasis and near abolition of t-PA release will strongly promote clot propagation and vessel occlusion. These findings suggest a major contribution of impaired endothelial PAR-1 action to the increased atherothrombotic risk of cigarette smokers.