Activation of plasma kallikrein arginine esterase activity by kaolin resulted in peak activity at 1 min of incubation and a 50% reduction in activity at 5 min in normal plasma, and 30% reduction in the plasma of patients with hereditary angioneurotic edema who lacked the C1 inactivator. The peak esterolytic activity was inhibited by soybean trypsin inhibitor whereas the 5 min activity was resistant to this inhibitor. Acid treatment of normal and hereditary angioneurotic edema plasma destroyed the factor responsible for the fall in esterase activity at 5 min and the factor which rendered the esterase resistant to soybean trypsin inhibitor.
Purified α2-macroglobulin inhibited approximately 50% of the TAMe esterase activity of purified plasma kallikrein without changing its activity toward basic amino acid esters. The interaction between the α2-macroglobulin and kallikrein resulted in alterations in the gel filtration chromatographic pattern of the TAMe esterase and biologic activity of kallikrein, indicating that kallikrein was bound to the α2-macroglobulin. The TAMe esterase activity of this complex, isolated by column chromatography, was resistant to C1 inactivator and SBTI. Studies of incubation mixtures of kallikrein, α2-macroglobulin and C1 inactivator suggested that these inhibitors compete for the enzyme, and that the α2-macroglobulin partially protects the esterase activity of kallikrein from C1 inactivator. The α2-macroglobulin isolated from kaolin-activated plasma possessed 240 times the esterolytic activity of the α2-macroglobulin purified from plasma treated with inhibitors of kallikrein and of its activation. The α2-macroglobulin blocked the uterine-containing activity and vascular permeability-inducing effects of plasma kallikrein. These studies suggest that the α2-macroglobulin is a major plasma inhibitor of kallikrein and provide a new example of an interrelationship between the coagulation, fibrinolytic, and kallikrein enzyme systems.