Persistent thrombin generation in humans during specific thrombin inhibition with hirudin.
BACKGROUND The degree to which antithrombotic drugs suppress thrombin generation is unknown. Because hirudin, unlike antithrombin III, binds intravascular thrombin rapidly and selectively to yield a circulating inactive complex of 3- to 4-hour half-life, we used intravenous hirudin in humans to investigate the course of thrombin generation during and early after anticoagulation with this potent, direct antithrombin.
METHODS AND RESULTS Intravascular thrombin was measured with an ELISA for the thrombin-hirudin complex formed during and for 18 hours after stopping a 6-hour infusion of hirudin at 0.1, 0.2, and 0.3 mg.kg-1.h-1 in three groups of six patients each. With free hirudin in 20- to 10,000-fold molar excess of thrombin and peak activated partial thromboplastin times of 2.3 to 3.0 times baseline, mean plasma thrombin-hirudin complex increased from 794 +/- 85 pg/mL (mean +/- SEM) 15 minutes after the start of the infusion to 1617 +/- 151 pg/mL at 6 hours of infusion to 2667 +/- 654 pg/mL at 24 hours. During the 24-hour observation period, plasma concentration of fragment 1.2 (the peptide released during conversion of prothrombin to thrombin) never fell below baseline but rather increased transiently during the hirudin infusion. Plasma concentrations of thrombin-antithrombin III complex (in ng/mL) decreased from 4.34 +/- 0.40 at baseline to 1.64 +/- 0.13 at 6 hours (P < .001) and gradually increased after stopping the infusion to 5.7 +/- 0.87 at 24 hours (nonsignificant compared with baseline).
CONCLUSIONS Measurement of thrombin-hirudin complex may be used as a marker of thrombin generation in humans. Persistent accumulation of thrombin-hirudin complex and generation of fragment 1.2 during and after completion of potent anticoagulation with hirudin suggest thrombin generation is not blocked by high-affinity thrombin inhibition. The persistent formation of thrombin during declining plasma levels of hirudin may contribute to the pathogenesis of rethrombosis early after antithrombin therapy or during inadequate anticoagulation.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association