Vascular endothelium is strategically located at the interface between tissue and blood. It is pivotal for protecting against vascular injury and maintaining blood fluidity. Normal endothelium releases prostacyclin and nitric oxide, potent inhibitors of platelet and monocyte activation and vasodilators. Their syntheses are governed by isoforms of enzymes. Normal endothelial surface expresses ecto-adenosine diphosphatase, which degrades adenosine diphosphate and inhibits platelet aggregation; thrombomodulin, which serves as a binding site for thrombin to activate protein C; and heparin-like molecules, which serve as a cofactor for antithrombin III. Normal endothelium secretes tissue plasminogen activator, which activates the fibrinolysis system. Endothelium produces and secretes von Willebrand factor, which mediates platelet adhesion and shear-stress-induced aggregation. Injury to endothelium is accompanied by loss of protective molecules and expression of adhesive molecules, procoagulant activities, and mitogenic factors, leading to development of thrombosis, smooth muscle cell migration, and proliferation and atherosclerosis.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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