Are primed polymorphonuclear leukocytes contributors to the high heparanase levels in hemodialysis patients?

Meital Cohen-Mazor, Shifra Sela, Rafi Mazor, Neta Ilan, Israel Vlodavsky, Angelique L. Rops, Johan Van Der Vlag, Hector I. Cohen, Batya Kristal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Patients on chronic hemodialysis (HD) are at high risk for developing atherosclerosis and cardiovascular complications. Heparanase, an endoglycosidase that cleaves heparan sulfate (HS) side chains of proteoglycans, is involved in extracellular matrix degradation and, as such, may be involved in the atherosclerotic lesion progression. We hypothesize that heparanase is elevated in HD patients, partly due to its release from primed circulating polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNLs), undergoing degranulation. Priming of PMNLs was assessed by levels of CD11b and the rate of superoxide release. Heparanase mRNA expression in PMNLs was determined by RT-PCR. PMNL and plasma levels of heparanase were determined by immunoblotting, immunofluorescence, and flow cytometry analyses. The levels of soluble HS in plasma were measured by a competition ELISA. This study shows that PMNLs isolated from HD patients have higher mRNA and protein levels of heparanase compared with normal control (NC) subjects and that heparanase levels correlate positively with PMNL priming. Plasma levels of heparanase were higher in HD patients than in NC subjects and were further elevated after the dialysis session. In addition, heparanase expression inversely correlates with plasma HS levels. A pronounced expression of heparanase was found in human atherosclerotic lesions. The increased heparanase activity in the blood of HD patients results at least in part from the degranulation of primed PMNLs and may contribute to the acceleration of the atherosclerotic process. Our findings highlight primed PMNLs as a possible source for the increased heparanase in HD patients, posing heparanase as a new risk factor for cardiovascular complications and atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H651-H658
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Heparan sulfate


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