Background. Thrombin is a key factor of hemostasis, mediating the conversion of fibrinogen into fibrin. Along with prothrombin, of which thrombin is the active derivative, it has been found locally expressed in the central nervous system. This article aims to describe the role of thrombin in the normal functioning of the central nervous system and stroke.

Methods. In this mini-review, the specialized databases Medscape, PubMed, and Web of Science, from the years 2003-2018, were used to find relevant documents by using MeSH terms: ”thrombin” and ”stroke”.

Results. Prothrombin and thrombin influence neural development, protection and regeneration, thrombin being a relatively strong regulating factor of brain function. However, high levels of thrombin are detrimental to neuronal health, and cause atherosclerotic plaque development and instability - a leading cause of cerebral infarction. In stroke, thrombin promotes direct cellular toxicity, vascular disruption, oxidative stress and inflammatory response. There is a direct correlation between thrombin activity in the affected brain hemisphere and the infarction volume. Direct acting thrombin inhibitors, like dabigatran, significantly decrease the risk of ischemic stroke.

Conclusion. Further studies on the correlation between thrombin levels, generation and activity and the risk and recurrence of ischemic cerebral stroke should give new insight on this association, resulting in an optimized practical therapeutic approach.


central nervous system, thrombin, stroke