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Semin Thromb Hemost. 2007 Nov;33(8):727-44. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-1000364.

An update on the von Willebrand factor collagen binding assay: 21 years of age and beyond adolescence but not yet a mature adult.

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  • 1Department of Haematology, Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research (ICPMR), Westmead Hospital, Westmead, Australia.


von Willebrand disease (VWD) is considered to be the most common inherited bleeding disorder. It is diagnosed after a clinical and physical review, with personal and familial evidence of (primarily mucocutaneous) bleeding, and confirmed by laboratory testing. The latter typically entails initial plasma testing of factor VIII coagulant (FVIII:C), von Willebrand factor (VWF) protein (antigen; VWF:Ag), and VWF function, which has classically been assessed using the ristocetin cofactor (VWF:RCo) assay. More recent attention has focused on another functional VWF assay, the collagen binding (VWF:CB) assay, as a possible replacement for the VWF:RCo assay or as a supplementary test of VWF adhesive "activity." Additional laboratory testing can comprise a battery of confirmatory and VWD subtype assisting assays, including assessment of VWF:multimers. This review updates our knowledge of VWD diagnostics with a particular emphasis on the VWF:CB assay. There is good evidence now in place that an optimized VWF:CB assay can significantly reduce the diagnostic error rate otherwise arising from the use of a test panel restricted to including the VWF:RCo assay as the sole functional VWF assay. Nevertheless, the VWF:CB assay should not be used to wholly replace the VWF:RCo assay in phenotypic testing but rather as a supplementary assay. However, with some thought and justification, the VWF:CB assay can be used to partly replace the VWF:RCo assay in some "screening" applications and can also be used to abrogate the need to perform routine VWF:multimers in most test cases.

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