Medical Definition of Tissue plasminogen activator

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Tissue plasminogen activator: (tPA) An enzyme that helps dissolve clots. tPA is made by the cells lining blood vessels and has also been made in the laboratory. It is systemic thrombolytic (clot-busting) agent and is used in the treatment of heart attack and stroke. Activase (alteplase) is a tissue plasminogen activator produced by recombinant DNA technology. Recombinant tPA is abbreviated r-tPA.

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Last Editorial Review: 1/25/2017

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