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Blood. 1995 Sep 1;86(5):1794-801.

Factors IXa and Xa play distinct roles in tissue factor-dependent initiation of coagulation.

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Department of Pathology, Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Durham, NC 27705, USA.


Tissue factor is the major initiator of coagulation. Both factor IX and factor X are activated by the complex of factor VIIa and tissue factor (VIIa/TF). The goal of this study was to determine the specific roles of factors IXa and Xa in initiating coagulation. We used a model system of in vitro coagulation initiated by VIIa/TF and that included unactivated platelets and plasma concentrations of factors II, V, VIII, IX, and X, tissue factor pathway inhibitor, and antithrombin III. In some cases, factor IX and/or factor X were activated by tissue factor-bearing monocytes, but in some experiments, picomolar concentrations of preactivated factor IX or factor X were used to initiate the reactions. Timed samples were assayed for both platelet activation and thrombin activity. Factor Xa was 10 times more potent than factor IXa in initiating platelet activation, but factor IXa was much more effective in promoting thrombin generation than was factor Xa. In the presence of VIIa/TF, factor X was required for both platelet activation and thrombin generation, while factor IX was only required for thrombin generation. We conclude that VIIa/TF-activated factors IXa and Xa have distinct physiologic roles. The main role of factor Xa that is initially activated by VIIa/TF is to activate platelets by generating an initial, small amount of thrombin in the vicinity of platelets. Factor IXa, on the other hand, enhances thrombin generation by providing factor Xa on the platelet surface, leading to prothrombinase formation. Only tiny amounts of factors IX and X need to be activated by VIIa/TF to perform these distinct functions. Our experiments show that initiation of coagulation is highly dependent on activation of small amounts of factors IXa and Xa in proximity to platelet surfaces and that these factors play distinct roles in subsequent events, leading to an explosion of thrombin generation. Furthermore, the specific roles of factors IXa and Xa generated by VIIa/TF are not necessarily reflected by the kinetics of factor IXa and Xa generation.

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