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Blood. 1997 May 1;89(9):3213-8.

Activation of the coagulation cascade in C1-inhibitor deficiencies.

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Institute of Internal Medicine, University of Milan, Italy.


Activation of the contact and complement systems in C1-inhibitor deficiencies is thought to contribute to the pathogenesis of angioedema attacks by releasing kinins. Trigger stimuli of attacks may also activate coagulation. This is particularly important because experimental data suggest that thrombin, the main enzyme of the coagulation cascade, increases vascular permeability and can thus influence edema formation. We have studied 19 patients with hereditary angioedema (HAE) during remission, 5 HAE patients during acute attacks, and 6 patients with acquired angioedema (AAE) during remission and during seven attacks. Thirty normal subjects, matched for sex and age, served as controls. Generation of thrombin was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) as plasma levels of the prothrombin fragment 1 + 2 (F1 + 2); the initiators of the tissue factor and contact coagulation pathways were investigated by measuring plasma levels of activated factor VII (FVIIa) coagulometrically and activated factor XII (FXIIa) by ELISA. Cleavage of high molecular weight kininogen (HK) was evaluated by immunoblotting analysis. F1 + 2 was slightly increased during remission and further significantly increased during attacks in both HAE (P = .0115) and AAE. FVIIa and FXIIa, normal during remission, increased strikingly during attacks in both HAE (P = .0022 and P = .0044) and AAE. During remission, cleaved HK was normal in HAE and high in AAE; during attacks it increased in HAE (P = .0008) and remained elevated in AAE. Our data indicate that in C1-inhibitor deficient patients there is increased generation of thrombin during attacks, with signs of activation of both the contact and tissue factor coagulation pathways. In conclusion, C1-inhibitor deficiency, whether hereditary or acquired, has demonstrable activation of the coagulation and kinin-forming cascades during attacks and that thrombin should be considered a possible contributing factor in the pathogenesis of edema in HAE and AAE.

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