Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 is a serpin that regulates the activities of plasminogen activators. However, its physiological roles in the CNS are incompletely understood.We have found that plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 has a novel biological function in the CNS: the contribution to survival of neurites on neurons. PC-12 cells treated with nerve growth factor differentiated into neurons and formed a network of neurites. In a serum-free culture medium, these neurites disappeared within 24 h. The addition of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 prevented the disintegration of the neuronal networks, while the addition of the serpin inhibitors aprotinin and antipain did not. The plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 maintained or promoted the phosphorylated state of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), but not of protein kinase B (Akt). These results are the first evidence that plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 in the CNS acts to maintain the morphology of neurites via activation of the ERK-related pathway in the neurons.
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