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Chest. 2003 Sep;124(3 Suppl):4S-10S.

Thrombin formation.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT 05405, USA.


The generation of the enzyme thrombin from its precursor prothrombin is the central event of the blood coagulation process, which is essential to hemostasis and the culprit in thrombosis. Thrombin is produced by a complex series of proteolytic events that are initiated when cryptic tissue factor interacts with plasma factor VIIa to initiate the complex series of events leading to the formation of the blood coagulation enzyme complexes that lead to the efficient generation of the enzyme. During these processes, thrombin contributes to both the generation of the catalysts involved in its ultimate production and to the catalysts that lead to attenuation of its production. Thrombin-catalyzed events both enhance and diminish the process of thrombin generation, which is down-regulated by stoichiometric and dynamic inhibitory processes. The combinations of intensities of activation and inhibition processes provide tight regulation of the hemostatic process, establishing reaction thresholds, essentially leading to an "on/off" switch. This review provides a brief summary of the evolution of knowledge with respect to present-day concepts of thrombin generation via the tissue factor pathway and its regulation.

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