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Cardiovasc Res. 1997 May;34(2):255-65.

von Willebrand factor: a marker of endothelial dysfunction in vascular disorders?

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University Department of Medicine, City Hospital, Birmingham, UK.


The vascular endothelium is involved in the production of many important substances which are involved in a cardiovascular pathophysiology. One such substance which is synthesised by, and stored in, endothelial cells is von Willebrand factor (vWf). When released, vWf appears to mediate platelet aggregation and adhesion. Numerous clinical and experimental reports suggest that high vWf levels reflect damage to the endothelium or endothelial dysfunction. The close association between vWf and the processes of thrombus formation (thrombogenesis) or atherogenesis also suggests that high vWf levels may be a useful indirect indicator of atherosclerosis and/or thrombosis. The availability of a useful marker of endothelial dysfunction may have potential clinical value. The measurement of such a marker can perhaps be a non-invasive way of assisting in clinical diagnosis or as an indicator of disease progression. High vWf levels have also been shown to have prognostic value in patients with ischaemic heart disease, peripheral vascular disease and inflammatory vascular disease. However, there is limited information that increased vWf is actually casual in the progression of vascular disease and that measures aimed at reducing vWf levels will be beneficial. In addition, interpretation of raised plasma vWf levels is complicated by the fact that vWf may be an acute phase reactant. Further research is indicated to explore the predictive value of this marker in population studies and, perhaps, therapeutic approaches in (and the value of) modifying vWf levels or function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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