Does cell-free DNA promote coagulation and inhibit fibrinolysis in patients with unprovoked venous thromboembolism?
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INTRODUCTION: Cell-free DNA (CFDNA) is the major structural component of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). CFDNA contributes to the prothrombotic potential of NETs by promoting thrombin generation and inhibiting fibrinolysis. Patients with venous thromboembolism (VTE) have elevated circulating nucleosomes (i.e. DNA-histone complexes). In this study, we investigated if CFDNA contributes to a procoagulant and an antifibrinolytic state in patients with unprovoked VTE. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Plasma samples from patients with a first episode of unprovoked VTE were obtained from the D-Dimer Optimal Duration Study (DODS). We measured CFDNA plasma levels in 263 patients while on warfarin and 1-month after stopping. Thrombin generation assays and clot lysis assays were measured in patients after stopping warfarin. Comparisons were made with healthy controls. RESULTS: CFDNA levels in VTE patients who stopped warfarin (5.53 μg/mL; 95%CI: 5.34-5.72) were higher than during warfarin therapy (3.11 μg/mL; 95%CI: 2.98-3.25; p < .001), and higher than in healthy controls (2.77 μg/mL; 95%CI: 2.42-3.11; p < .001). VTE patients had a procoagulant state as evidenced by a shorter lag time (30.8 min; 95%CI: 29.2-32.4) compared to controls (48.2 min; 95%CI :41.0-55.5; p < .001) and a greater endogenous thrombin potential (2656 nM∗min; 95%CI: 2479-2836) compared to healthy controls (1198 nM ∗ min; 95%CI: 793-1603). There was a higher proportion of clots generated from patient plasma that were resistant to lysis (43.7%) compared to healthy controls (46.3%; p < .05). CFDNA levels were not associated with enhanced thrombin generation or impaired fibrinolysis in VTE patients. CONCLUSION: CFDNA levels are elevated in patients with unprovoked VTE but do not correlate with the procoagulant or anti-fibrinolytic properties of patient plasma. This study suggests that additional factors in addition to CFDNA may contribute to the pathogenesis of VTE.
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