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Thromb Haemost. 1993 Oct 18;70(4):625-30.

Comparison of the non-specific binding of unfractionated heparin and low molecular weight heparin (Enoxaparin) to plasma proteins.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


The non-specific binding of anticoagulantly-active heparin to plasma proteins may influence its anticoagulant effect. We used low affinity heparin (LAH) essentially devoid of anti-factor Xa activity to investigate the extent and possible mechanism of this non-specific binding. The addition of excess LAH to platelet-poor plasma containing a fixed amount of unfractionated heparin doubled the anti-factor Xa activity presumably because it displaces anticoagulantly-active heparin from plasma proteins. Although dextran sulfates of varying molecular weights also increased the anti-factor Xa activity, less sulfated heparin-like polysaccharides had no effect. These findings suggest that the ability to displace active heparin from plasma protein binding sites is related to charge and may be independent of molecular size. In contrast to its effect in plasma containing unfractionated heparin, there was little augmentation in anti-factor Xa activity when LAH was added to plasma containing low molecular weight heparin (LMWH), indicating that LMWH binds less to plasma proteins than unfractionated heparin. This concept is supported by studies comparing the anticoagulant activity of unfractionated heparin and LMWH in plasma with that in buffer containing antithrombin III. The anti-factor Xa activity of unfractionated heparin was 2-fold less in plasma than in the purified system. In contrast, LMWH had identical anti-factor Xa activity in both plasma and buffer, respectively. These findings may be clinically relevant because the recovered anti-factor Xa activity of unfractionated heparin was 33% lower in plasma from patients with suspected venous thrombosis than in plasma from healthy volunteers.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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