Tissue Factor Expression during Coculture of Endothelial Cells and Monocytes
The role of monocytes as initiators of coagulation through the expression of tissue factor has been well documented in vitro, and the relationship of monocyte tissue factor to the thrombotic complications of atherosclerosis has been suggested. Tissue factor antigen has been identified in the plasma membranes of monocytes adherent to the vascular endothelium overlying atherosclerotic plaques and the presence of tissue factor in adherent mononuclear cells correlates with the polymerization of fibrin at these same sites. To further understand the relationship of cellular adhesion to tissue factor expression, human monocytes were cocultured for periods ranging from 30 min to 24 hr with endothelial cells isolated from human umbilical veins (HUVEC). Tissue factor antigen, as assayed by both ELISA and immunogold electron microscopy, was minimal on either monocytes or HUVEC maintained in homogeneous cultures or on the cells when cocultured for 1 hr or less. This was true whether the HUVEC were in a native state or if they had been stimulated with interleukin-1 (IL-1β) or lipopolysaccharide (LPS) prior to monocyte adhesion. Typically, less than 13% of the cells in short-term cocultures were positively labeled through anti-tissue factor immunogold microscopy. The level of tissue factor, however, was increased 3-fold above baseline when monocytes were cocultured with unstimulated HUVEC for 4 hr, and it was more than double this if the HUVEC had been exposed to IL-1β or LPS (7-fold increase). By 24 hr, the expression of tissue factor antigen was nearly 50-fold higher in cocultures involving stimulated HUVEC, and at the later times greater than 70% of the cells were labeled with immunogold. Through the use of quantitative immunogold electron microscopy, the increase in tissue factor was most pronounced on monocytes which had three times greater increase in tissue factor than HUVEC in the same cultures. These studies document the stimulation of tissue factor expression by monocytes upon coculture with endothelial cells, and the data document an enhancement of this coculture effect upon HUVEC stimulation with cytokines. These observations have relevance to atherosclerotic disease by suggesting that interaction of monocytes with dysfunctional endothelial cells overlying atherosclerotic plaques would be sufficient to induce tissue factor and by so doing predispose to localized thrombotic events.