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Logo of jcinvestThe Journal of Clinical InvestigationCurrent IssueArchiveSubscriptionAbout the Journal
 
J Clin Invest. Aug 1990; 86(2): 385–391.
PMCID: PMC296739
Clot-bound thrombin is protected from inhibition by heparin-antithrombin III but is susceptible to inactivation by antithrombin III-independent inhibitors.
J I Weitz, M Hudoba, D Massel, J Maraganore, and J Hirsh
Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Abstract
Propagation of venous thrombi or rethrombosis after coronary thrombolytic therapy can occur despite heparin administration. To explore potential mechanisms, we set out to determine whether clot-bound thrombin is relatively protected from inhibition by heparin-antithrombin III but susceptible to inactivation by antithrombin III-independent inhibitors. Using plasma fibrinopeptide A (FPA) levels as an index of thrombin activity, we compared the ability of thrombin inhibitors to block FPA release mediated by fluid-phase thrombin with their activity against the clot-bound enzyme. Incubation of thrombin with citrated plasma results in concentration-dependent FPA generation, which reaches a plateau within minutes. In contrast, there is progressive FPA generation when fibrin clots are incubated with citrated plasma. Heparin, hirudin, hirudin dodecapeptide (hirugen), and D-phenylalanyl-L-prolyl-L-arginyl chloromethyl ketone (PPACK) produce concentration-dependent inhibition of FPA release mediated by fluid-phase thrombin. However, heparin is much less effective at inhibiting thrombin bound to fibrin because a 20-fold higher concentration is necessary to block 70% of the activity of the clot-bound enzyme than is required for equivalent inhibition of fluid-phase thrombin (2.0 and 0.1 U/ml, respectively). In contrast, hirugen and PPACK are equally effective inhibitors of fluid- and solid-phase thrombin, while hirudin is only 50% as effective against the clot-bound enzyme. None of the inhibitors displace bound 125I-labeled thrombin from the clot. These studies indicate that (a) clot-bound thrombin is relatively protected from inhibition by heparin, possibly because the heparin binding site on thrombin is inaccessible when the enzyme is bound to fibrin, and (b) clot-bound thrombin is susceptible to inactivation by antithrombin III-independent inhibitors because the sites of their interaction are not masked by thrombin binding to fibrin. For these reasons, antithrombin III-independent inhibitors may be more effective than heparin in certain clinical settings.
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