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New fundamental link found between coagulation and immune systems

last modified Mar 26, 2019 05:46 PM

Dr Laura Burzynski, Dr Murray Clarke, and colleagues have identified a fundamental and unappreciated direct link between blood coagulation and immune systems in mammals. These systems are combined in most arthropods (e.g. in horseshoe crabs) but although links between inflammation and haemostasis do exist in mammals, they are indirect and relatively slow to act.

Laura and colleagues have discovered that the coagulation protease thrombin directly cleaves interleukin-1α (IL-1α), rapidly activating the downstream inflammatory cascade. This cleavage site in IL-1α is highly conserved throughout mammals, suggesting that it has an important function.

Bleeding and the risk of infection are the main challenges to survival after wounding. Thus, the activation of inflammation in response to coagulation would help prevent wound infection.

These findings suggest an elegant way for this to occur, with the primary effector of coagulation directly cleaving and activating an apical effector of immunity, leading to the rapid recruitment of immune cells to the wound site.

The research, published in Immunity, has also identified thrombin-cleaved IL-1α in patients with sepsis, further suggesting that this new link may be relevant in multiple inflammatory and thrombotic diseases, and normal physiology. 

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