The homeostatic blood protease, activated protein C (APC), can function as an antithrombotic on the basis of inactivation of clotting factors Va and VIIIa; a cytoprotective on the basis of endothelial barrier stabilization and anti-inflammatory and antiapoptotic actions; and a regenerative on the basis of stimulation of neurogenesis, angiogenesis, and wound healing. Pharmacologic therapies using recombinant human and murine APCs indicate that APC provides effective acute or chronic therapies for a strikingly diverse range of preclinical injury models. APC reduces the damage caused by the following: ischemia/reperfusion in brain, heart, and kidney; pulmonary, kidney, and gastrointestinal inflammation; sepsis; Ebola virus; diabetes; and total lethal body radiation. For these beneficial effects, APC alters cell signaling networks and gene expression profiles by activating protease-activated receptors 1 and 3. APC’s activation of these G protein–coupled receptors differs completely from thrombin’s activation mechanism due to biased signaling via either G proteins or β-arrestin-2. To reduce APC-associated bleeding risk, APC variants were engineered to lack >90% anticoagulant activity but retain normal cell signaling. Such a neuroprotective variant, 3K3A-APC (Lys191-193Ala), has advanced to clinical trials for ischemic stroke. A rich data set of preclinical knowledge provides a solid foundation for potential translation of APC variants to future novel therapies.
Activated protein C: biased for translation