Transient intermittent lymphocyte activation is responsible for the instability of angina.
BACKGROUND Blood clotting activation is an important component of the inflammatory response; the outbursts of unstable angina are usually associated with increased thrombin formation and coronary mural thrombosis.
METHODS AND RESULTS To investigate 1) whether monocyte activation is responsible for the enhanced thrombin formation during bursts of unstable angina and 2) what mechanism(s) might be responsible for monocyte activation, we studied patients with unstable angina (n = 31), stable effort angina (n = 23), left endoventricular thrombosis (n = 8), and control subjects (n = 44), measuring plasma fibrinopeptide A (FPA) levels and the capacity of monocytes to express procoagulant activity (PCA) and of lymphocytes to modulate this expression. Patients with unstable angina and patients with endoventricular thrombosis had significantly (p less than 0.0001) higher FPA plasma levels than patients with effort angina and control subjects. However, only monocytes from unstable angina patients expressed significantly increased PCA characterized as tissue factor-like activity (units/10(5) monocytes, median and range; 120, 1.1-463.2 versus 10.8, 0.8-39.1 in control subjects; p less than 0.0001 versus the other groups). When 14 patients with unstable angina were restudied 8-12 weeks later, they showed neither elevated plasma FPA levels nor monocyte PCA. In unstable angina patients, there was a correlation between FPA and PCA (r = 0.56, p less than 0.001). For expression of PCA by monocytes, both an incubation of at least 2 hours with lymphocytes and direct monocyte-lymphocyte contact were needed. In reconstitution and cross-mixing experiments, only lymphocytes from patients with active unstable angina induced the expression of PCA by monocytes from both control and patient groups.
CONCLUSIONS The results demonstrate that the increased thrombin formation in unstable angina patients is due to the expression of tissue factor-like activity by activated monocytes. The monocyte activation appears to be a part of a lymphocytic cell-instructed response intermittently triggered by unknown factors.
- Copyright © 1992 by American Heart Association