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Semin Thromb Hemost. 1998;24(4):367-79.

Epidemiology of factor V Leiden: clinical implications.

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Department of Hematology, Catholic University, Rome, Italy.


Inherited resistance to activated protein C (APC) has been recently recognized as a novel cause underlying venous thrombophilia. In most cases APC resistance is due to a single point mutation in the factor V gene leading to a replacement of Arg506 with Gln (factor V Leiden). Factor V Leiden allele is present in about 5% of the Caucasian individuals (Europeans, Jews, Israeli Arabs, and Indians) and is virtually absent in Africans, Asians, and races with Asian ancestry such as Amerindians, Eskimos, and Polynesians; this suggests a single origin of the mutation, which has been proven by haplotype analysis. A low prevalence of the mutation (1%) was noticed in African-Americans for recent racial admixture. Factor V Leiden presents not a major role as risk factor for arterial thrombosis, while it is present in 18% of Caucasian patients with venous thrombosis. This high incidence prevalence mirrors the incidence in the corresponding general populations and can be even higher in some areas according to the ethnic background. Conversely, factor V Leiden is usually not found in non-Caucasian thrombotic patients; this could give reason of the lower incidence of venous thrombotic disease in Africa and Asia in comparison with Europe. Therefore, screening for factor V Leiden is suggested for all Caucasian individuals with previous venous thrombosis; inclusion criteria for the screening should not be stringent because clinical manifestations associated with the mutant genotype can be also mild or secondary to circumstantial risk factors or manifesting at advanced age. Factor V Leiden can act also as concurrent risk factor in individuals with deficiency of natural inhibitors or mild hyperhomocysteinemia. So far, screening for the mutation in individuals with no history of thrombosis is recommended only for relatives of proband patients identified as carriers; the available data do not justify indiscriminate screening before risk situations such as oral contraceptives intake, pregnancy, or high-risk surgery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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