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Keywords:

  • Alpha macroglobulin;
  • Alpha2-macroglobulin;
  • Alpha1-proteinase inhibitor;
  • Antithrombin;
  • Aspartic proteinase inhibitor;
  • Cysteine proteinase inhibitor;
  • Metalloproteinase inhibitor;
  • Protease inhibitor;
  • Serine proteinase inhibitor

Proteinase inhibitors are proteins in the body that regulate the catalytic activity of proteinases. They are important in a large variety of physiologic processes including coagulation, digestion, tumor metastasis and immunity. Proteinase inhibitors are categorized as either nonspecific proteinase inhibitors or class-specific proteinase inhibitors. Nonspecific proteinase inhibitors are comprised soley of the alpha macroglobulins, most notably alpha2-macroglobulin. Class-specific proteinase inhibitors are subcategorized as serine proteinase inhibitors, aspartic proteinase inhibitors, metalloproteinase inhibitors, and cysteine proteinase inhibitors. Each subcategory is made up of numerous inhibitors. As the roles of individual proteinase inhibitors are determined, the therapeutic use of natural and synthetic proteinase inhibitors is also being investigated. The purpose of this article is to review the history and classification of proteinase inhibitors and their relevance to veterinary medicine.