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J Thromb Haemost. 2008 May;6(5):762-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1538-7836.2008.02945.x. Epub 2008 Mar 1.

Detailed von Willebrand factor multimer analysis in patients with von Willebrand disease in the European study, molecular and clinical markers for the diagnosis and management of type 1 von Willebrand disease (MCMDM-1VWD).

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Coagulation Laboratory, Hamburg, Germany.



Type 1 von Willebrand disease (VWD) is a congenital bleeding disorder characterized by a partial quantitative deficiency of plasma von Willebrand factor (VWF) in the absence of structural and/or functional VWF defects. Accurate assessment of the quantity and quality of plasma VWF is difficult but is a prerequisite for correct classification.


To evaluate the proportion of misclassification of patients historically diagnosed with type 1 VWD using detailed analysis of the VWF multimer structure.


Previously diagnosed type 1 VWD families and healthy controls were recruited by 12 expert centers in nine European countries. Phenotypic characterization comprised plasma VWF parameters and multimer analysis using low- and intermediate-resolution gels combined with an optimized visualization system. VWF genotyping was performed in all index cases (ICs).


Abnormal multimers were present in 57 out of 150 ICs; however, only 29 out of these 57 (51%) had VWF ristocetin cofactor to antigen ratio below 0.7. In most cases multimer abnormalities were subtle, and only two cases had a significant loss of the largest multimers.


Of the cases previously diagnosed as type 1 VWD, 38% showed abnormal multimers. Depending on the classification criteria used, 22 out of these 57 cases (15% of the total cohort) may be reclassified as type 2, emphasizing the requirement for multimer analysis compared with a mere ratio of VWF functional parameters and VWF:Ag. This is further supported by the finding that even slightly aberrant multimers are highly predictive for the presence of VWF mutations.

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