Abnormal endothelial factor VIII associated with pulmonary hypertension and congenital heart defects.
In patients with pulmonary hypertension associated with congenital heart defects, ultrastructural abnormalities are observed in endothelial cells, which suggest heightened metabolic function. If endothelial production of the von Willebrand factor (vWF) is increased, this may be associated with abnormal interactions with platelets leading to worsening of the pulmonary hypertension. We therefore evaluated vWF in 30 patients with pulmonary hypertension (25 with congenital heart defects) and in 30 individuals with normal pulmonary arterial pressure (12 with congenital heart defects). We measured the antigenic (vWF: Ag) and biologic (VWF: rist) activity of vWF in plasma and assessed endothelial vWF: Ag directly by an immunoperoxidase stain applied to lung biopsy tissue. Because of considerable variance and small size, the group of five patients with pulmonary hypertension and without congenital heart defects were excluded from statistical analyses. Patients with pulmonary hypertension and congenital heart defects had significant higher vWF: Ag levels than individuals with normal pulmonary arterial pressure without congenital heart defects (p less than .05), whereas values in those with normal pressure and congenital heart defects were intermediate. In lung biopsy tissue available from 29 patients in this study and from 11 others we previously reported, immunostain of pulmonary arterial endothelium for vWF was intense (suggesting increased production) in 29 of 32 with pulmonary hypertension and congenital heart defects and in only one of eight with normal pulmonary arterial pressure and congenital heart defects (p less than .01). Only three patients with congenital heart defects and pulmonary hypertension and increased vWF: Ag, however, had increased vWF: rist. Compatible with this discrepancy was a loss of vWF high-molecular weight forms as determined by both crossed immunoelectrophoresis and multimeric analysis. Our results suggest that increased vWF in most patients with congenital heart defects and pulmonary hypertension is associated with increased production of a biologically deficient molecule lacking high-molecular weight forms.
- Copyright © 1987 by American Heart Association