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Am Heart J. 2000 Apr;139(4):696-703.

Therapeutic heparin concentrations augment platelet reactivity: implications for the pharmacologic assessment of the glycoprotein IIb/IIIa antagonist abciximab.

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Clinical Pharmacology Department at Centocor, Malvern, PA 19335, USA.



This study evaluated the effect of heparin on the platelet reactivity and the pharmacodynamic profile of abciximab.


Ex vivo studies were performed on patients undergoing elective percutaneous coronary intervention (n = 26) who were at moderate to high risk of ischemic complications. Patients received a 12,000-U bolus of heparin followed by a 0.25-mg/kg bolus of abciximab. Before abciximab treatment, platelet aggregation responses to a variety of stimuli were assessed immediately before and 10 minutes after the heparin bolus. Heparin increased platelet aggregation to 2 and 5 micromol/L adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and 5 microg/mL collagen by 36%, 25%, and 46%, respectively (P < or =.001), but did not influence platelet reactivity to thrombin receptor-activating peptide or 20 micromol/L ADP and had no appreciable effect on platelet surface glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa receptor numbers. To assess the impact of heparin on the pharmacodynamic profile of abciximab, GP IIb/IIIa receptor blockade and platelet aggregation inhibition estimates obtained after abciximab administration were calculated relative to the basal levels observed both before and after the heparin bolus. At 2 and 24 hours after the abciximab bolus, GP IIb/IIIa receptor blockade measurements normalized to either the preheparin or postheparin baseline determinations were equivalent. For all ADP concentrations tested, the 2-hour post-abciximab bolus platelet aggregation inhibition estimates based on the preheparin and postheparin baseline values were comparable. However, for 2 and 5 micromol/L ADP, the 24-hour post-abciximab platelet aggregation inhibition measurements based on preheparin baseline values were significantly lower than postheparin baseline determinations (both P < or =.003). In vitro studies revealed that therapeutic heparin doses induced a concentration-dependent reduction in the extent of platelet inhibition produced by amounts of abciximab that elicit partial inhibition of platelet aggregation. However, at abciximab concentrations that achieved platelet aggregation blockade of >80%, the levels of inhibition of platelet aggregation in the presence and absence of heparin were equivalent.


The cumulative ex vivo and in vitro data indicate that for certain stimuli, heparin alters the platelet inhibitory profile of abciximab at concentrations of the agent that yield partial suppression of platelet function.

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