Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 and asthma: role in the pathogenesis and molecular regulation


Dr. C K Oh, MedImmune, LLC, One MedImmune Way, Gaithersburg, MD 20878, USA.


Plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI)-1 is a major inhibitor of the fibrinolytic system. PAI-1 levels are markedly increased in asthmatic airways, and mast cells (MCs), a pivotal cell type in the pathogenesis of asthma, are one of the main sources of PAI-1 production. Recent studies suggest that PAI-1 may promote the development of asthma by regulating airway remodelling, airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), and allergic inflammation. The single guanosine nucleotide deletion/insertion polymorphism (4G/5G) at −675 bp of the PAI-1 gene is the major genetic determinant of PAI-1 expression. Plasma PAI-1 level is higher in people with the 4G/4G genotype than in those with the 5G/5G genotype. A strong association between the 4G/5G polymorphism and the risk and the severity of asthma has been suggested. Levels of plasma IgE and PAI-1 and severity of AHR are greater in asthmatic patients with the 4G/4G genotype than in those with the 5G/5G genotype. The PAI-1 promoter with the 4G allele renders higher transcription activity than the PAI-1 promoter with the 5G allele in stimulated MCs. The molecular mechanism for the 4G allele-mediated higher PAI-1 expression is associated with greater binding of upstream stimulatory factor-1 to the E-box adjacent to the 4G site (E-4G) than to the E-5G. In summary, PAI-1 may play an important role in the pathogenesis of asthma. Further studies evaluating the mechanisms of PAI-1 action and regulation may lead to the development of a novel prognostic factor and therapeutic target for the treatment and prevention of asthma and other PAI-1-associated diseases.