Anticoagulant protein C (PC) is important not only for maintenance of normal hemostasis, but also for regulating the host immune response during inflammation. Because mice with a designed total genetic deficiency in PC (PC-/- mice) die soon after birth, attempts to dissect PC function in various coagulation/inflammation-based pathologies through use of mice with less than 50% of normal PC levels have not been successful to date. In the current investigation, we have used a novel transgenic strategy to generate different mouse models expressing 1-18% of normal PC levels. In contrast to PC-/- mice, mice with only partial PC deficiency survived beyond birth and also developed thrombosis and inflammation. The onset and severity of these phenotypes vary significantly and are strongly dependent on plasma PC levels. Our findings additionally provide the first evidence that maternal PC is vital for sustaining pregnancy beyond 7.5 days postcoitum, likely by regulating the balance of coagulation and inflammation during trophoblast invasion. These low PC-expressing transgenic mouse lines provide novel animal models that can be used to elucidate the importance of PC in maintenance of the organism and in disease.
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