Protein C inhibitor (PCI)

Academic Article


  • PCI is a non-specific serpin that inhibits several proteases of the coagulation and fibrinolytic systems as well as plasma- and tissue kallikreins and the sperm protease acrosin. The precise physiological role of PCI has not been defined yet. Heparin stimulates most PCI/protease reactions, but interferes with the tissue kallikrein/PCI-interaction. Thereby heparin not only regulates PCI-activity but also its specificity in systems containing two or more of its target proteases. This effect is not restricted to heparin, but is also seen with other glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and large, negatively charged molecules. PCI also binds to GAGs present on the surface of epithelial kidney cells, and GAGs isolated from these cells have a similar effect on PCI activity as heparin. Studies analyzing the role of PCI as an acrosin inhibitor revealed that endogenous PCI is immunocytochemically localized to disrupted acrosomal membranes of morphologically abnormal sperms, while intact sperms are negative for PCI-antigen In a mouse in vitro fertilization model human PCI inhibited sperm/egg binding and decreased the fertilization rate. Northern blotting of human and mouse mRNA using human and mouse PCI-cDNA probes revealed that in the mouse PCI is exclusively synthesized in the genital tract (testis, seminal vesicle, ovary), while in humans PCI is additionally synthesized in many other organs (e.g., liver, pancreas, heart). Therefore PCI might regulate enzymes involved in fertilization (e.g. acrosin) in both species. Other proteases (e.g., tissue kallikrein) are possibly regulated in a species specific manner by different inhibitors.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Geiger M; Zechmeister-Machhart M; Uhrin P; Hufnagl P; Ecke S; Priglinger U; Xu J; Zheng X; Binder BR
  • Start Page

  • 53
  • End Page

  • 56
  • Volume

  • 32
  • Issue

  • 1-3