PROTEOLYTIC DEGRADATION OF HIGH MOLECULAR WEIGHT KININOGEN IN ACUTE THROMBOTIC THROMBOCYTOPENIC PURPURA
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Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a disorder characterized by thrombocytopenia and schistocytic haemolytic anaemia. The majority of patients have normal coagulation parameters including the activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT). An intracellular cysteine protease, calpain, has been found in the plasma of many patients with acute TTP, and we hypothesize that it participates in the pathogenesis of the disorder. However, certain aspects of the disorder remain unresolved. For example, high molecular weight kininogen (HK) is one of the primary plasma inhibitors of calpain, and it also can act as a substrate for calpain. Consequently, one might anticipate that the HK could be defective or altered in TTP. In this report we describe the analysis of HK in plasma from live patients with acute TTP and following recovery. The HK was studied immunogenically and functionally. We observed that the HK in plasma samples from patients with acute TTP was proteolysed. This degradation was not observed in remission samples from the same patients. However, both acute and remission TTP samples had normal HK coagulant activity (acute samples, x = 0.84 +/- 0.26 U/ml; remission samples, x = 0.89 +/- 0.21 U/ml; control samples, x = 0.87 +/- 0.05 U/ml). Although the TTP plasmas were able to inhibit calpain activity, less inhibition activity was found in the acute samples (acute: mean inhibition 71 +/- 2.4%; remission: mean 92 +/- 2.1%; control samples: mean 93 +/- 5.4%; P < 0.001). Normal HK treated with calpain also had reduced calpain inhibition capacity (mean 58%). This study suggests that although HK is proteolysed during acute TTP, the proteolysis occurs without a major loss in the coagulation function or depletion of the protease inhibitory activity of HK.