Increased levels of the megakaryocyte and platelet expressed cysteine proteases stefin A and cystatin A prevent thrombosis

Sci Rep. 2019 Jul 3;9(1):9631. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-45805-9.


Increased platelet activity occurs in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and such platelet dysregulation likely originates from altered megakaryopoiesis. We initiated identification of dysregulated pathways in megakaryocytes in the setting of T2DM. We evaluated through transcriptomic analysis, differential gene expressions in megakaryocytes from leptin receptor-deficient mice (db/db), exhibiting features of human T2DM, and control mice (db/+). Functional gene analysis revealed an upregulation of transcripts related to calcium signaling, coagulation cascade and platelet receptors in diabetic mouse megakaryocytes. We also evidenced an upregulation (7- to 9.7-fold) of genes encoding stefin A (StfA), the human ortholog of Cystatin A (CSTA), inhibitor of cathepsin B, H and L. StfA/CSTA was present in megakaryocytes and platelets and its expression increased during obesity and diabetes in rats and humans. StfA/CSTA was primarily localized at platelet membranes and granules and was released upon agonist stimulation and clot formation through a metalloprotease-dependent mechanism. StfA/CSTA did not affect platelet aggregation, but reduced platelet accumulation on immobilized collagen from flowing whole blood (1200 s-1). In-vivo, upon laser-induced vascular injury, platelet recruitment and thrombus formation were markedly reduced in StfA1-overexpressing mice without affecting bleeding time. The presence of CA-074Me, a cathepsin B specific inhibitor significantly reduced thrombus formation in-vitro and in-vivo in human and mouse, respectively. Our study identifies StfA/CSTA as a key contributor of platelet-dependent thrombus formation in both rodents and humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Platelets / enzymology*
  • Calcium Signaling
  • Cystatin A / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / complications*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Megakaryocytes / enzymology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Platelet Activation
  • Platelet Aggregation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Thrombosis / etiology
  • Thrombosis / metabolism
  • Thrombosis / pathology
  • Thrombosis / prevention & control*


  • Cystatin A