Modulation of Urokinase-type and Tissue-type Plasminogen Activator Occurs at an Early Stage of Progessing Stages of Chronic Venous Insufficiency: Investigative Report
Manfred Peschen, Alan A. Rogers, W. J. John Chen, Wolfgang Vanscheidt
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) progresses through a series of clinical stages, from healthy skin to poorly healing leg ulcers. The aim of this study was to analyse the distribution pattern and activity level of urokinase-type (uPA) and tissue-type plasminogen activators (tPA) in normal skin and in tissue biopsies of progressing stages of CVI, prior to and including venous ulceration. Biopsies 6 mm thick were taken from 14 healthy volunteers and 37 patients with 5 different stages of CVI: telangiectases; stasis dermatitis; hyperpigmentation; lipodermatosclerosis; and leg ulcer. Changes in the enzymatic activity and spatial localization of uPA and tPA during the progression of CVI were examined using in situ histological zymography. Normal skin and skin with telangiectases showed a punctate PA activity, consisting of both uPA and tPA activity. As CVI progressed, an increase in the distribution of uPA and a decrease in tPA activity was observed. The spatial localization of uPA was widespread within the dermis of biopsies from stasis dermatitis and lipodermatosclerosis and was associated in particular with the dermoepidermal junction. Hyperpigmented skin revealed a pattern of PA expression similar to that of healthy skin. However, leg ulcer specimens exhibited peak levels of uPA with little tPA. Furthermore, a plasminogen-independent protease activity that was not present in any of the earlier stages of CVI appeared. Our results indicate that there are profound changes in PA activity during the progression of CVI and that these changes begin early in CVI, for example, in stasis dermatitis. We hypothesize that the balance or imbalance of the PA activity in the later stages of CVI is an important pathogenic factor for the development of venous leg ulcer.