Anti-platelet factor 4/heparin antibodies in orthopedic surgery patients receiving antithrombotic prophylaxis with fondaparinux or enoxaparin
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Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is caused by platelet-activating IgG antibodies that recognize platelet factor 4 (PF4) bound to heparin. Immunogenicity of heparins differs in that unfractionated heparin (UFH) induces more anti-PF4/heparin antibodies than low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) and UFH also causes more HIT. Fondaparinux, a synthetic anticoagulant modeled after the antithrombin-binding pentasaccharide, is believed to be nonimmunogenic. We tested 2726 patients for anti-PF4/heparin antibodies after they were randomized to receive antithrombotic prophylaxis with fondaparinux or LMWH (enoxaparin) following hip or knee surgery. We also evaluated in vitro cross-reactivity of the IgG antibodies generated against PF4 in the presence of UFH, LMWH, danaparoid, or fondaparinux. We found that anti-PF4/heparin antibodies were generated at similar frequencies in patients treated with fondaparinux or enoxaparin. Although antibodies reacted equally well in vitro against PF4/UFH and PF4/LMWH, and sometimes weakly against PF4/danaparoid, none reacted against PF4/fondaparinux, including even those sera obtained from patients who formed antibodies during fondaparinux treatment. At high concentrations, however, fondaparinux inhibited binding of HIT antibodies to PF4/polysaccharide, indicating that PF4/fondaparinux interactions occur. No patient developed HIT. We conclude that despite similar immunogenicity of fondaparinux and LMWH, PF4/fondaparinux, but not PF4/LMWH, is recognized poorly by the antibodies generated, suggesting that the risk of HIT with fondaparinux likely is very low.
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