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Thromb Haemost. 1999 Nov;82(5):1382-5.

Estimation of the von Willebrand factor-cleaving protease in plasma using monoclonal antibodies to vWF.

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  • 1INSERM U.143 Hôpital de Bicêtre, Paris, France.


A protease present in plasma cleaves von Willebrand factor (vWF) at the peptide bond 842Tyr-843Met of the mature subunit. To quantify this vWF-cleaving protease activity in plasma we have developed a simple method based on the estimation by IRMA of the degradation of a constant amount of wild type recombinant vWF used as substrate, by serial dilutions of test plasma used as protease provider. vWFAg was estimated by two-site IRMA using as first coating antibody a monoclonal antibody (MoAb) whose epitope is localized on the C-terminal side of the cleavage site, and as second labeled antibody a pool of MoAbs specific for the N-terminal side. Because the proteolytic process leads to the progressive separation of the C- and N-terminal portions of the vWF subunit such an IRMA also shows a progressive apparent loss of vWFAg. In contrast, the levels of vWFAg estimated after proteolysis by regular IRMA remained essentially constant. Results obtained with this new method were compared with the analysis by SDS-agarose gel electrophoresis of the multimeric pattern of proteolyzed WT-rvWF and no significant difference was noted testing a series of 28 plasmas. As compared with normal pooled plasma, 14 normal individuals and 13 patients with various types of vWD had normal levels of protease activity (44-178%) by both methods. The validity of the method was confirmed by showing a lack of detectable protease activity in a patient with chronic relapsing thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. In conclusion our method appears as a useful tool for the quantification of the vWF-cleaving protease activity in plasma. Its sensitivity and specificity are similar to those of SDS-gel electrophoresis. However, this new IRMA has the major advantages of being much simpler and faster, and open to most research laboratories in the field.

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