Anti-PF4/heparin antibodies and venous graft occlusion in postcoronary artery bypass surgery patients randomized to postoperative unfractionated heparin or fondaparinux thromboprophylaxis
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BACKGROUND: Anti-PF4/heparin antibodies are frequently generated after coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery, with platelet-activating IgG implicated in heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT). It is controversial whether non-platelet-activating antibodies are associated with thrombosis. OBJECTIVES: To determine in post-CABG patients whether thromboprophylaxis using fondaparinux vs. unfractionated heparin (UFH) reduces the frequency of anti-PF4/heparin antibodies, and whether anti-PF4/heparin antibodies are associated with early graft occlusion. METHODS/PATIENTS: In a pre-planned secondary analysis of a randomized control trial (RCT) comparing fondaparinux vs. UFH thromboprophylaxis post-CABG, we determined the frequency of anti-PF4/heparin antibody formation by solid-phase enzyme-immunoassay (EIA) and of platelet-activating antibodies by serotonin-release assay (SRA); the SRA and fluid-phase EIA were used to assess fondaparinux cross-reactivity. We also examined whether anti-PF4/heparin antibodies were associated with early arterial or venous graft occlusion (6-week CT angiography). RESULTS: We found no significant difference in the frequency of antibody formation between patients who received fondaparinux vs. UFH (65.3% vs. 46.0%; P = 0.069), and no significant fondaparinux cross-reactivity. Venous graft occlusion(s) occurred in 6/26 patients who formed 'strong' IgG antibodies (≥ 1.0 optical density [OD] units and ≥ 2× baseline) vs. 3/66 who did not (P = 0.0139). In both unadjusted and adjusted analyses, strong postoperative (but not pre-operative) anti-PF4/heparin IgG responses were associated with a markedly increased risk of early venous (but not arterial) graft occlusion (adjusted OR, 9.25 [95% CI, 1.73, 49.43]; P = 0.0093); notably, none of the three SRA-positive patients developed a venous graft occlusion. CONCLUSIONS: Fondaparinux vs. UFH thromboprophylaxis postCABG does not reduce anti-PF4/heparin antibody formation. Non-platelet-activating anti-PF4/heparin IgG antibodies generated post operatively are associated with early venous graft occlusion.
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