Send to

Choose Destination
Blood. 2007 Dec 15;110(13):4253-60. Epub 2007 Sep 11.

Determinants of PF4/heparin immunogenicity.

Author information

Division of Hematology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is an antibody-mediated disorder that occurs with variable frequency in patients exposed to heparin. HIT antibodies preferentially recognize large macromolecular complexes formed between PF4 and heparin over a narrow range of molar ratios, but the biophysical properties of complexes that initiate antibody production are unknown. To identify structural determinants underlying PF4/heparin immunogenicity, we characterized the in vitro interactions of murine PF4 (mPF4) and heparin with respect to light absorption, size, and surface charge (zeta potential). We show that PF4/heparin macromolecular assembly occurs through colloidal interactions, wherein heparin facilitates the growth of complexes through charge neutralization. The size of PF4/heparin macromolecules is governed by the molar ratios of the reactants. Maximal complex size occurs at molar ratios of PF4/heparin at which surface charge is neutral. When mice are immunized with complexes that differ in size and/or zeta potential, antibody formation varies inversely with heparin concentration and is most robust in animals immunized with complexes displaying a net positive zeta-potential. These studies suggest that the clinical heterogeneity in the HIT immune response may be due in part to requirements for specific biophysical parameters of the PF4/heparin complexes that occur in settings of intense platelet activation and PF4 release.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center