Protease-Activated Receptors in Cardiovascular Diseases
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Thrombosis associated with the pathophysiological activation of platelets and vascular cells has brought thrombin and its receptors to the forefront of cardiovascular medicine. Thrombin signaling through the protease-activated receptors (PARs) has been shown to influence a wide range of physiological responses including platelet activation, intimal hyperplasia, inflammation, and maintenance of vascular tone and barrier function. The thrombin receptors PAR1 and PAR4 can be effectively targeted in animals in which acute or prolonged exposure to thrombin leads to thrombosis and/or restenosis. In the present study, we describe the molecular and pharmacological basis of small-molecule inhibitors that target PAR1. In addition, we discuss a new class of cell-penetrating inhibitors, termed pepducins, that provide insight into previously unidentified roles of PAR1 and PAR4 in protease signaling.