Cardiovascular disease is the largest single cause of mortality and its major underlying pathology is atherosclerosis. The proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) is a key event in the pathogenesis of the various vascular diseases, including atherosclerosis and hypertension. Thrombin (Thr) is involved in the abnormal proliferation of VSMCs associated with atherosclerosis and hypertension.
ADAMs (A Disintegrin And Metalloproteinase) are transmembrane metalloproteinases, belonging to the adamalysins group, that are distinct from matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in a way as they have an extracellular disintegrin domain and cytoplasmic domain that can associate with intracellular proteins. There is limited knowledge about the presence of ADAM metalloproteinase activity in Thr-induced VSMCs proliferation. Therefore, this review examines recent findings in signaling mechanisms employed by Thr in modulating the regulation of proliferation of VSMCs with particular emphasis on involvement of ADAM 12 which has been identified as an important mediator of VSMCs hypertrophy and vascular diseases. These findings are critical for understanding the role of Thr in vascular biology and vascular diseases.