Thrombin is a stimulator of retinal pigment epithelial cell proliferation

Sean F. Hackett, Jeff H. Singer, Katrinka H. Leschey, Peter A. Campochiaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Two preparations of bovine thrombin were found to stimulate DNA synthesis in cultured human retinal pigment epithelial cells. DNA synthesis was assessed by both [3H]thymidine incorporation into TCA precipitable material and nuclear labeling with [3H]thymidine. Cultures grown in the presence of thrombin for 48 hr showed a significant increase in cell number. When the concentrations of the two thrombin preparations were normalized for clotting activity, they had almost identical dose-response curves and both caused a tenfold maximal stimulation of [3H]thymidine incorporation. The EC50 for the preparation with higher specific activity was 20 ng ml-1. Hirudin, a specific high affinity inhibitor of thrombin, completely blocked the mitogenic effect. When a maximally effective concentration of thrombin was used in combination with maximally effective concentrations of other growth factors (insulin, acidic fibroblast growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor, epidermal growth factor), they were found to be strongly synergistic in stimulating DNA synthesis. These data suggest that thrombin may act as an endocrine mediator of retinal pigment epithelial cell proliferation and participate in normal and exaggerated ocular wound healing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-100
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental eye research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • blood-retinal barrier
  • growth factors
  • proliferative vitreoretinopathy
  • retinal pigment epithelium
  • retinal wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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