Tea consumption has been linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality, which imposes a heavy burden on the healthcare system; however, which components in tea cause this beneficial effect is not fully understood. Here we uncovered a cystatin (namely CsCPI1), which is a cysteine proteinase inhibitor (CPI) of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) that promotes antithrombotic activity. Since thrombosis is a common pathogenesis of fatal CVDs, we investigated the effects of CsCPI1, which showed good therapeutic effects in mouse models of thrombotic disease and ischemic stroke. CsCPI1 significantly increases endothelial cell production of nitric oxide (NO) and inhibits platelet aggregation. Notably, CsCPI1 exhibited no cytotoxicity or resistance to pH and temperature changes, which indicates that CsCPI1 might be a potent antithrombotic agent that contributes to the therapeutic effects of tea consumption against CVD. Specifically, the antithrombotic effects of CsCPI1 are distinct from the classical function of plant cystatins against herbivorous insects. Therefore, our study proposes a new potential role of cystatins in CVD prevention and treatment, which requires further study.
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