Objective: Protein S may exert an anticoagulant activity by enhancing the anticoagulant activity of activated protein C and/or by directly inhibiting the prothrombinase complex. Protein S itself may also directly regulate inflammatory responses and apoptosis. The role of protein S in acute lung injury (ALI) was unknown. This study evaluated the effect of protein S on ALI in the mouse.
Methods: Animal ALI was induced in C57/BL6 mice by intratracheal instillation of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Mice were treated with protein S or saline by intraperitoneal injection 1 h before LPS instillation.
Results: Activated protein or protein S alone and combined activated protein C + protein S therapy decreased inflammatory markers and cytokines in mice with acute lung injury. In LPS-treated mice compared with controls ALI was induced as shown by significantly increased levels of total protein, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-6 and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Mice with ALI treated with protein S had significantly decreased concentrations of tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6 in the lung compared with untreated animals. Thrombin-antithrombin III, a marker of the activity of the coagulation cascade, was unchanged. Protein S inhibited the expression of cytokines in vitro and increased activation of the Axl tyrosine kinase pathway in A549 epithelial cells.
Conclusion: Protein S protects against LPS-induced ALI, possibly by directly inhibiting the local expression of inflammatory cytokines without affecting coagulation.